Sunday, July 25, 2010

May 31, 2009: Psychobabble recommends The Uninvited

A couple of weeks ago I reported that Lewis Allen's rarely screened 1944 ghost story The Uninvited was being shown at the Landmark Loew's in Jersey City. I'd long heard about this film, which is often ranked among the finest classic horror films. I was expecting something along the lines of The Innocents (1961), a fine but rather stilted and glum adaptation of Henry James's The Turn of the Screw. Instead I was delighted to see a decidedly cheeky film with great performances, an intricate plot, plenty of humor, and some very effectively spooky special effects. Ray Milland is charming as Roderick Fitzgerald, who purchases a spooky, sprawling house with his sister Pamela, played by Ruth Hussey. They encounter some locals with dark pasts, wispy, weeping apparitions, and Alan "Alfred the Butler" Napier as a doctor intent on robbing Hussey's cradle. It's all incredibly entertaining. Milland has been aptly described as "the poor man's Cary Grant", which sounds like a back-handed compliment, but it's better to be the poor man's Cary Grant than pretty much anyone else (except for, of course, Cary Grant).

As I detailed in my previous post about this screening, The Uninvited has had something of a sketchy history on home video. Let's hope that the new print Universal created specifically for this screening will result in a DVD release sometime in the near future. Highly recommended.
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