I watched this movie a few months ago, and was so taken by it that I quickly wrote an entry about it, which I decided to wait and post until I saw another airing of it. Well, that time has come! On Monday – April 18 (2016) at 9:00 PM (Central) they will be airing The Spiral Staircase on Turner Classic Movies, and if you want to see a terrific, old classic mystery movie, go set up your DVRs as soon as you finish reading my entry. Here’s the synopsis from the TCM channel:
THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE (1945)
A serial killer stalks a mute servant girl in a remote mansion.
Dir: Robert Siodmak Cast: Dorothy McGuire, George Brent, Ethel Barrymore.
I watch a lot of old, black and white mystery movies, and since I do, I don’t often write an entry about them. For me to do so, the movie has to be particularly good; it has to leave an impression on me >>> and that is what the 1945 version of The Spiral Staircase did!
The Spiral Staircase is based on Ethel Lina White’s novel “Some Must Watch“. I have not read the novel, so I can’t tell you how true-to-the-written word the producers/director stayed. I can, however, tell you that if the movie is anything like Ethel Lina White’s “Some Must Watch“, then the book must be a great mystery read!
The Spiral Staircase, for the most part, takes place inside of an old, elaborately-decorated early 1900s mansion >>> during a fierce thunderstorm. The movie’s director is Robert Siodmak, and he does an absolutely fabulous job accelerating the tension and mystery as the (+/-) hour and a half progresses. I found myself (much to my husband’s chagrin) saying “Don’t go!” and “Don’t do it!” as I gathered up the red herrings and thought that I definitely had solved the mystery (I was wrong!) before the last scene of the movie.
Ethel Barrymore is terrific as Mrs. Warren, the bed-ridden curmudgeonly, old woman. Dorothy McGuire is absolutely wonderful as Helen, the young servant who cannot speak. George Brent (a particular favorite of mine), Kent Smith, Rhonda Flemming, and Gordon Oliver are all great as the secondary characters. And, as an added treat, we get to see Elsa Lanchester do what she did best >>> complain about her lot in life. (I love seeing her do that!)
It wasn’t until after my husband & I watched The Spiral Staircase that I found out that Ethel Lina White’s “Some Must Watch” was made into four versions of The Spiral Staircase. I haven’t seen the other three versions (1961 with Elizabeth Montgomery as Helen, 1975 with Jacqueline Bisset as Helen, and 2000 with Nicolette Sheridan as Helen) so I can’t vouch for them, but I can say this about the 1945 version of The Spiral Staircase: If you get a chance to see this movie, do yourself a favor. It’s a terrific mystery movie!
P.S. So, before you forget, go set up your DVRs!
For more ideas on movies and television shows, be sure to check my TV and Movie page on my site. Here’s the list of television mystery movies that will be on for the remainder of April: Upcoming Television Mystery Movies for April 2016.