Crazy Knitter Reviews

The place where this crazy knitter reviews books, TV, movies and recipes

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Spiral Staircase (1946)

A wonderful and suspenseful film. In a small town in the early 1900's a killer is stalking woman. These are not ordinary women, he targets women who are handicapped in some way. The latest victim is a crippled woman who is staying at the local hotel. While the murder is being committed several people are downstairs watching a film in the hotel lobby. Among the patrons is Helen Capel (Dorothy McGuire), a beautiful young mute girl. Helen works as a servant at the home of Mrs Warren (Ethel Barrymore). Her employer lives in a large house with her son, Steve (Gordon Oliver), and step-son, Professor Warren (George Brent). Mrs Warren is failing in health but is very concerned with Helen's safety. She asks her physician, Dr Parry (Kent Smith), to take her to safety. However, the doctor is called away on an emergency and the killer is inside the Warren home stalking Helen already.

This was a very compelling film. Even though I figured it out about half way through the movie it was still a fun watch. McGuire was terrific as the mute Helen. With the Academy's love of people playing handicapped roles I am surprised she was not nominated for an Oscar for this role. There have been two remakes of this film. The first in 1975 with Christopher Plummer and Jacqueline Bisset and the second in 2000 with Nicolette Sheridan and Judd Nelson. However, nothing can compare to this black and white classic.



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