The Uninvited (1944)

The Uninvited poster

A locked room.  The scent of mimosa.  An unpleasant chill.  Nighttime crying … Windward House is haunted by a malignant presence, but London-based composer Roderick and his sister Pamela aren’t to know that after their dog Bobby chases a squirrel in the front door of this abandoned marvel which they purchase in this 1930s-set tale of the afterlife.

Dorothy Macardle’s wartime novel Uneasy Freehold was a bestseller which soon attracted Hollywood studio attention. Released in 1944, this supernatural chiller still has an eerie quality which clearly derives from its Rebecca-like origins in a Cornish clifftop house, wonderful cinematography by Charles Lang, and a clear Lesbian subtext in the Mrs Danvers-esque person of sanatorium proprietress Miss Holloway (Cornelia Otis Skinner), seated beneath a portrait of Mary Meredith, her idol, and the monstrous mother who dominates the pages of the original book and the life of her putative daughter Stella, in a touching performance by the tragic Gail Russell. Paramount Studios included special effects to enhance the film’s visual impact but these were removed for distribution in the United Kingdom version.

‘Stella By Starlight’ would be a hit – even bigger than the film, and a lasting tribute to a film of authentic feeling and mood.

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Orson Welles

Orson Welles

Citizen Kane.  Touch of Evil.  The Magnificent Ambersons.  The Lady from Shanghai.  Othello.  Macbeth.  The Stranger. Chimes at Midnight.  The Trial.  F for Fake.

Orson Welles was born 100 years ago, on the 6th of May 1915.

His parents insisted to him that he was a genius. And he was. Stories of his profligacy abounded, from his catch-chase around Europe for the role of Harry Lime in The Third Man, to his on-set behaviour:  Joan Fontaine recalled of him during Jane Eyre,” we could only think of him as someone to handle carefully, to avoid as much as possible.” (No Bed of Roses:  168). He spent much of my childhood advertising sherry and appearing on chatshows. A magician, a raconteur, a writer, a broadcaster, actor, director, producer, his last film, The Other Side of the Wind, awaits completion financing more than 40 years on.  He died with a typewriter on his lap.