2018 Countdown to Halloween – Day 30: The Uninvited (1944)
Cast: Ray Milland as Roderick Fitzgerald
Ruth Hussey as Pamela Fitzgerald
Gail Russell as Stella Meredith
Donald Crisp as Commander Beech
Cornelia Otis Skinner as Miss Holloway
Based on the novel by Dorothy Macardle
Screenplay by Dodie Smith & Frank Partos
Directed by Lewis Allen
Plot: When a brother and sister move into a mansion by the sea, they soon discover it to be haunted. As things go bump in the night, will they be able to solve the mystery before the supernatural occurrences reach a dangerous level?
Richard’s Review: It’s been quite a few years since my last viewing of The Uninvited, so it was almost like a first watch for me. This is a classic ghost story, perfect for the Halloween season. I loved Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey as brother and sister Roderick and Pamela. It was nice to see them progress as the film moved forward, united as family while each finding love by the end of the story. Along with Stella, they were all very likeable. On the other hand, you have the almost intolerable Commander Beech, who does soften a little by the end and does have some reasons for his actions. Miss Holloway is also quite creepy and I enjoyed seeing a young Alan Napier in his pre-Alfred days as Dr. Scott.
The ghost storyline was well-handled with the supernatural elements reserved but well-played out. I especially appreciated the final moments when we finally see Mary Meredith’s ghost. Moments later, we get the usual 1940s happy ending, which was a pleasant break from some of the other darker films we watched this month. This was a top-notch effort and I highly recommend The Uninvited for Halloween viewing!
Karla’s Thoughts: I really enjoyed this from the cast and characters to the great atmosphere throughout the film. The main characters were all likeable while Commander Beech and Miss Holloway were almost the villains of the piece. I liked how the ghost was presented, especially with the use of the perfume and the classic ghostly occurrences such as cold spots. I also enjoyed the twist at the end. Of course, I loved the happy ending. One of my favorites of the month and I would definitely watch it again.
- This was the feature film debut of director Lewis Allen. He also directed The Unseen (1945), a mystery that is sometimes referred to as a sequel to The Uninvited. Before eventually settling into television, one of his last films was Suddenly (1954) with Frank Sinatra.
- Ray Milland also appeared in Charlie Chan in London (1934), Ministry of Fear (1944), The Lost Weekend (1945) and the Hitchcock classic, Dial M for Murder (1954). Genre fans will also remember him for several horror films in the 1960s, including The Man with X-Ray Eyes (1963) and Premature Burial (1962).
- Alan Napier, who played Dr. Scott, is better known for his role as Alfred in the 1960 television series Batman.
- Ray Milland reprised his role in the 1949 radio adaptation on the Screen Director’s Playhouse.
- The lesbian undertones of the Miss Holloway character alarmed the Catholic Legion of Decency, which once held influence over Hollywood.
- The ghosts in the film were originally to be unseen but Paramount Pictures opted to include some special effects against the director’s wishes.
Availability: The Uninvited is available on Blu-ray as part of The Criterion Collection.