on 10 July 2012
I've long been a fan of this classic ghost movie. I watch an inordinate amount of horror, and this is one of the few that contains genuine scares. And it was made more than 60 years ago.
Rick (Ray Milland on fantastic form, combining a light touch with heavyweight acting chops) and his sister buy a cliffside house from a curmudgeonly old man. They soon find out about the desperate sound of a woman crying in the night, but by then it's too late and they are stuck with the place. Worse, the old man's grand-daughter seems drawn to the house, although something there appears to want to harm her. Old, ugly secrets come to the surface as the brother and sister try to find out what is wrong with Windward House.
The Uninvited weaves its story with so many eerie scenes - the shadow on the stairs that frightens Lizzy, the crying in the night, the seance, the moment when Rick realizes the horror isn't over - that put modern imitators to shame.
The Uninvited has no irritating, over-wrought teenagers, no blood and guts, no tiresome, unwieldy psychological backgrounds cluttering up the characters and therefore the story. What it does have is an intelligent script, appropriate music and extremely good, restrained acting. What also stands out is the deft use of shadows and sounds, and of actors who can play characters who are truly afraid but eschew tedious hysteria in favour of stiff upper lips. The scene where Rick and his sister are in the studio and she tries to convince herself that the atmosphere of evil has gone - film-makers of the 21st century, take note.
If you want a fantastic, old-fashioned chiller of a ghost story, try this on some dark and stormy night.
on 25 September 2012
I was delighted to see that The Uninvited is at last available on DVD - this is easily the scariest film produced in the golden 1940s era of cinema and still stands up today among the best ghost stories. It has no gimmicks and just a few carefully judged effects but triumphs through suggesting something lurking in the shadows and leaving your imagination to do the rest. The script, production and cast led by Ray Milland are all excellent. There are a couple of real jump-out-of-your seat shock scares, and lots of genuinely spine-tingling moments. I recall seeing this as a teenager one stormy Sunday afternoon on TV and it scared the pants off me. Perfect for Halloween if your tastes stretch further than seeing tedious teens hacked to pieces.
This new DVD edition of the 1944 American supernatural movie "The Uninvited" is the perfect treat for a dark Autumn night. This almost gothic chiller, situated in an old house on a cornish cliff top, is total magic.
The plot is comfortingly familiar without being cliched either. Part mystery, part romance, part ghost story, the film, directed by Lewis Allen is quite closely based on a very successful novel by Dorothy Macardle - "Uneasy Freehold" - and stars stars Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey, two excellent actors, as brother and sister confronting something decidedly unpleasant in their "new" old home! Yes, you actually like the characters, and they are far removed from the uncharismatic 18 year olds who dominate most contemporary "horror" movies. To really engage with a film I need to "like" or at least be interested in the fate of the characters and rest assured in The Uninvited - you do.
Charles Lang was nominated in the 1945 Academy Awards for the Best Black and White Cinematography - and my word he deserved this, judging from this new release.
Remastered, but not restored, this is still a decent transfer with a high bitrate for it's "premiere" authorised release on DVD. Yes a restored blu ray version would have been an improvement but unlike some other reviewers I have little complaints about this very welcome release which stood up well to being projected on my 120" screen.
Don't forget this is a 1944 production though, so don't expect CGI etc etc. That's if you like CGI! What you get instead is a master-class in understated threat and a growing sense of unease which is sadly rare in modern film making.
So draw the curtains, light the pumpkin, and settle back with this little masterpiece, from a bygone age of magical film making, and enjoy!
Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new articles and four lobby card reproductions.
Original theatrical trailer.
Gallery of production stills, posters and lobby cards.
Remastered. 1.33:1 Full Frame English DD2.0 Mono
Dual-layer, progressive scan.
on 19 February 2012
This is a very entertaining picture made in a time when directors had talent to suggest horror instead of show horror. You just see all the films produced by Val Lewton (Cat People, I Walked With A Zombie, Isle Of Dead) for RKO in the forties and you will be shocked¡ This film shares that quality. Ray Milland always effective, the lovely Ruth Hussey and what can I say about the eternal beauty of Gail Russell? one of the saddest stories of Hollywood. Although amazon claims this is the first official release I bought a couple of years ago here in Spain a decent copy of The Uninvited as part of a pack of cheap but very good horror films from the thirties and forties. See it. You won't regret it.
The Uninvited is one of those films that probably owes much of its classic status to how little it has been seen over the years since its release: never available on a legitimate DVD until Exposure's new UK DVD release and rarely seen on TV in most countries, it's developed a formidable reputation as one of the great screen ghost stories that it can't really live up to. Not that it's a bad film by any means, but a few frissons apart it's not a particularly chilling one. Given a bigger budget than usual for the genre in the 40s and a then A-list leading man in Ray Milland, the emphasis seems to be on turning it into a romantic melodrama that's a kind of friendlier, cosier variation on Rebecca even if the plot is quite different. Accidentally stumbling across a large old house in Cornwall, Milland and his sister Ruth Hussey find it's on the market at a suspiciously low price because of its reputation for `disturbances,' but buy it anyway. The former owner, gruff Donald Crisp, wants it off his hands to keep his granddaughter Gail Russell away, and as pets refuse to go upstairs and unexpected chills and scents give way to sobbing in the night, it becomes clear that her long-dead mother hasn't vacated the premises - and that she's not the only ghost in the house either...
It's a well enough developed mystery even if you can see the resolution coming as soon as one character lets slip one vital bit of back story, but it doesn't seem to want to frighten its audience much, which was probably a sound commercial decision in 1944 but today leaves it in the shadow of more genuinely unsettling ghost stories like The Haunting. Seen with lowered expectations, it's a nice, cosy picture (well, the screenplay was co-written by 101 Dalmatians' Dodie Smith) with some good moments - a faked séance that turns real, some effective apparitions and a satisfying way of finally laying the malignant spirit - rather than a great one. Exposure's DVD, licensed from Universal, is a more than decent effort. The picture quality may not be quite top notch and is clearly unrestored but is certainly good enough, and they've put real effort into the extras - two radio adaptations with Milland from 1944 and 1949, the original theatrical trailer and a booklet.
on 4 November 2012
Although I would enthusiastically recommend purchasing this item (the movie is a genuine classic, available for the first time on DVD), I must confess that I was somewhat disappointed by the much-hyped "restored" material used for the actual transfer. It's a 35mm print of THE UNINVITED to be sure, with all the strength and focus of a first generation print... but right off the bat, that happens to be below current state-of-the-art home video standards. The great DVD/Blu-ray transfers nowadays are scanned directly from the original negative (whether we're talking FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE or Criterion's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST), rather than an IP (a brand new first generation print made from that negative), and the difference in quality can be startling. Because this new DVD employs a physical print instead of a "generation ahead" direct scan, the grey tones are fine but less "creamy," there are minor white specks and dirt marks here and there, reel change cue marks haven't been removed (so much for this being a "restoration"!), and most annoyingly, there are flickering masses of grain that inhabit most of the shadows and mid-tones, a genuine irritant in a spooky story like this. Some scenes are almost rendered unwatchable by this factor: Rick, Pam and Lizzie walking up the stairs as the candles flicker, or a contented Stella watching the sunrise with her ghost mother. These darkly-lit scenes would be problematic even with a negative scan; with a print, they amount to a grainy flicker-fest. Bottom line? BUY THIS DVD, by all means; the movie's great, it IS original 35mm material, the booklet's pretty enjoyable, the radio show extras are fun for comparative study, and it is the film's first DVD release, making this "Special Edition" totally collectible. But I believe we haven't seen the ultimate release of this wonderful ghost thriller. I'd like to think, for an American Blu-ray edition (hopefully licensed by Criterion), the original negative will indeed be scanned and THE UNINVITED will look as preternaturally perfect as, say, CASABLANCA, with no grainy snowstorms or minor physical flaws to interfere with the viewer's enjoyment.
on 6 November 2012
With all this hype about high bit rate and a Hi-Def transfer, I must admit that I was expecting better things. On a standard TV I'm sure this dvd looks fine but guys wih HD TVs over 40" screen size will beg for Blu-Ray. This is not to say that it is a terrible transfer... it isn't.. but for the grand packaging, complete with a really nice 24-pge booklet and 2 radio shows, I was hoping for better picture quality. I know it's possible because I have seen standard dvds that compete with Blu-Ray.. I just don't know what went wrong here. To my eyes this release looks like a 16mm print that has undergone a digital beef-up thus embellishing the shortcomings of the source material. Overall it looks okay but the crucial dark scenes are grainy and have a kind of white fleck in the blacks.. still, I'm glad to own it.
This dvd is released by ExposureCinema under licence from Universal so I'm reasoning that they used whatever source material they could get hold of locally instead of original elements. I was watching a few Universal Dvd releases of movies the same vinatge as 'The Uninvited' and the quality is much better.. 'better' in the 16mm vs. 35 mm sense.
The film itself is.. well.. sublime! This and "The Ghost & Mrs Muir" would make a great 1940s double feature.
on 21 March 2014
Brother and sister Roderick Fitzgerald(Ray Milland) and Pamela Fitzgerald(Ruth Hussey)down from London for the weekend find an abandoned old mansion overlooking the cliifs on the wild north Cornwall coastline.Impulsively they make a low offer to the owner ,retired and defiantly cantankerous commander Beech(Donald Crisp) only to be surprised when he accepts.They quickly find out that the house comes with a past but undeterred they press on with the purchase.Roderick becomes taken with the commander's granddaughter Stella(Gail russell) whose mother, Beech's daughter, plunged to her death many years before and is drawn to the house by forces that she assumes to be her.......
Considered to be the first film to take the old haunted house plot seriously,The Uninvited is first class entertainment from start to finish.Milland and Hussey are splendid as the well matched siblings and Gail Russell(a much maligned actress in her day who suffered from chronic nerves and who was to die tragically at 36 from alcohol abuse)is captivating as the haunted damsel in distress.Throw in Alan Napier as a splendidly resourceful doctor and willing third party to the unfolding events and the beautifully judged screenplay by Dodie Smith and Frank Partos which achieves effortlessly what so many films seem incapable of attaining, that of the characters saying exactly the right things at exactly the right times so the story continually feels credible throughout.The "Oh come on"quotient is ridiculously low and the denouement ,while guessable,is tantalisingly played out.The only false note is struck by the unconvincing performance by Cornelia Otis Skinner as the enigmatic Miss holloway.
I purchased the stan def 2k print by Criterion and save some very soft opening exteriors of the waves crashing into the cliffs,the print is nicely textured and affords Charles Lang's peerless work some wonderful moments with blacks and shdows perfectly good.Indeed the bit when the housekeeper screams out and Roderick racing in locates her with the lamp is beautifully done.
This film is a missing gem, not often heard of, coming in the wake of Rebecca, another film set in Cornwall over a clifftop,with thrashing sea below. A brother and sister , Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey ,buys a spooky old house, soon to discover it’s haunted. The family dog refuses to go upstairs, flowers wilt mysteriously and an ectoplasmic apparition appears. Disturbed local girl Gail Russell turns up to reveal that the spectre is the restless spirit of her mother, who died falling from the cliff. But brother and sister soon discover a double haunting, and need to lay to rest both ghosts.As in Rebecca the influence of the dead woman affects all destinies of the characters. There are some effectively creepy appearances of the spook at the top of the stairs. The English-born director Lewis Allen was not in Hitchcock’s league, but this was an auspicious movie debut(also regarded as his best work). The Uninvited (1944) is the 1st Hollywood film to treat supernatural matters seriously. The film’s cinematography by Charles Lang, gained an Academy award nomination, using a series of black and white keys, like Roderick(Milland) does when he makes his music on the piano. Viktor Young scores a hit with his music for the film, including Stella by Starlight.
The unnerving presence makes itself felt by an eerie chill in the rooms, the smell of Mimosa, and a distant wailing heard at night. Apart from the movie idol Ray Milland, there are character actors Ruth Hussey, Donald Crisp(as the disapproving, repressive grandfather),and Cornelia Otis Skinner as the aloof Mrs Danvers-like figure, Miss Holloway with her institute for the mentally unwell. But the film’s success is owed mostly to Gail Russell who plays Stella as a sleeping beauty type figure, who is enslaved by the past, until rescued by Milland as a gallant, cheerful soul who loves her.The Uninvited utilises romance, carries a light tone and has comedic episodes. But the safety of the characters is in question. We get doors thrown open , screams , and séances. The ghosts are serious concerns in the fabric of the story. They get under the skin.What may seem strange is the use of candles to light up the house, made in the early 40s but set in the late 30s. There’s also a battery-operated radio. The Uninvited makes the most of its wind-swept coastal back-drop, quaint villages, and traditional ‘homely’ fireside snugness. Based on a best-selling novel by Dorothy Macardle, Uneasy Freehold. If you like films like The Innocents or The Haunting, catch this. Booklet enclosed.
I must admit, being a fan of the golden oldie movies since I was quite young, growing up during the 1950s, I had not seen this movie before so I was glad of the opportunity to purchase after being encouraged by the many positive reviews.
I enjoyed it thoroughly, there was a very good atmosphere prevailing throughout, with a few jumpy scenes, especially the one near the end when the living room door flies open! Of course, the cast certainly enhanced the quality of the movie. Ray Milland, a legendary actor in his time, portrays Roderick Fitzgerald a writer, aided by Ruth Hussey who plays his sister, purchase a clifftop house in Cornwall. It soon becomes apparant that there is an unnerving presence in the house, with weird sounds being heard. The previous owner, played by veteran actor Donald Crisp knows a lot more than he is letting on. Then there is Stella Meredith played by the beautiful Gail Russell who died tragically young from the effects of alcoholism, who has some connection with the house.
It all becomes rather mysterious, and the story moves along to its thrilling climax which I won't reveal here.
A very good all round spooky ghost story with its heavy reliance on psychological thrills rather than gore; the sort of movie which inspired the classic "The Haunting" produced in 1963.
Picture quality is rather grainy; perhaps this may enhance the eery atmosphere which pervades throughout. Decent soundtrack though. There are some extras, including a trailer which viewers will find interesting.