The Uninvited (1944)
Reviewed on 2010 April 10
Ed, a long-time reader and fellow divine movie being in Colorado, recommended this to me because of my soft spot for old and classy movies. This is a little dated but that doesn’t bother me in the least. We get Ray Milland, a baroque plot spun in the English seaside, and a house to die for, perhaps literally.
Londoner Roderick Fitzgerald (Milland) and his sister Pamela (Ruth Hussey) stumble across an amazing house on the last day of their holiday. Their dog, who apparently is as smart and as obedient as my dog, chases a squirrel through the window of a palatial and apparently abandoned house. The siblings go inside to retrieve their critter and Pamela falls in love with it at first sight (and I bet half the women in any given audience did too), coaxing her brother to jointly buy the thing with her. I think it’s an axiom that any house that’s this old and this fabulous has to have something wrong with it, and this house, to use spin, comes pre-occupied. There’s a gloomy room with a fantastic view of the shore but always oppressive and clammy, and creepy sounds at night. The house already has a reputation in the quaint village, which may explain why the owner, Commander Beech (Donald Crisp) sold them a mansion that Joan Crawford would have been happy to die in, for what would likely be the price of a starter home today. They decide to stick with it, even when they both hear the strange crying noises at night…
Scary? Maybe not by a post-’70s standard. For one thing it’s too pretty: I was looking at the supposedly oppressive room with the huge window and tried to let myself get pulled in. Instead I was too busy geeking out over that view, thinking how much our houseplants and fat kittehs would love all that sun. But it’s an entertaining ghost story/mystery, well-told and with lots of gorgeous scenery. And there is one disturbing bit where they try to have a seance to find out what is going on, jury-rigging an antique table and sherry glass into a paradoxically creepy and elegant Ouija™ board and planchette.
Three chocolate morsels.