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The Spiral Staircase [DVD] [1945]

4.5 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: George Brent, Ethel Barrymore, Gordon Oliver, Dorothy McGuire
  • Directors: Robert Siodmak
  • Format: Black & White, Full Screen, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 1 Jan. 2008
  • Run Time: 81 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0010KG2OC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,485 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

This superb Hitchcockian thriller shocked critics and audiences on its initial release. With superb performances from the cast (Dorothy McGuire in particular); a wonderfully eerie gothic mansion and a chilling atmosphere of fear and suspense, it is easy to see why the film stands as one of the classic tales of terror.

Helen Capel (DOROTHY McGUIRE) is a beautiful young girl who has not uttered a word since childhood. She works as a servant for old, ailing Mrs. Warren (ETHEL BARRYMORE), in the Warren family mansion. When a sinister spate of murders involving 'women with afflictions' hits the neighbourhood, Helen believes she's the next victim. One night, a storm breaks and Helen realises the killer is in the house with her. Unable to scream for help, what can she do to save herself? And just who is the psychotic killer?

From the Back Cover

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Turn off the lights and get ready for one of the best suspense films of the forties. The Spiral Staircase is perhaps not as well known as some classic Hitchcock movies, but the film is a true gem for aficinados of scary black and white thrillers. I was introduced to the film by my mother who saw it when she was 12 in 1946. It scared the hell out of her then and did the same to us both i 2009. The director is the most underrated Robert Siodmak, proberly best known for The Killers starring Burt Lancaster. The Spiral Staircase has all the ingredienses of a classic suspense film: Insane murderer, creepy old house, several suspects and superb black and white photography. Ethel Barrymore and specially George O'Brian give firstrate performances as two of the main characters in this unforgettable film.
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If you like good old black and white thrillers then this film is worth getting. It stars Dorothy McGuire as a young woman who helps to look after an elderly lady who is dying. A number of women are murdered but at first there is no connection between the murders. Is McGuire in danger and if so from whom? They are the questions which slowly build the suspense, and like the staircase you go round from one suspect to another until the twist at the end.
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Helen Capel was rendered mute in childhood due to a family trauma, now she acts as a companion to the bed ridden Mrs Warren. She's currently fretful because a serial killer is on the loose and he preys on women with afflictions...

Based on Ethel White's novel "Some Must Watch," The Spiral Staircase harks back to the days of the "old dark house" thrillers and encompasses a German expressionist sheen. The setting is an old Gothic mansion in New England at the turn of the century. Directed by Robert Siodmak, not one spooky house thriller genre convention has been neglected here. The tension builds amid creaking doors and gates, whistling winds, flickering candles, blowing curtains and cut-aways to the eyes of the unseen lurking madman waiting to add poor Helen to his roll call of victims. Mirrors, windows and shadows feature prominently as craftsman Siodmak spins his uneasy expressionistic web.

The cast are uniformly strong. Dorothy McGuire gives one of her best and most convincing performances as the under threat Helen. While Ethel Barrymore (nominated for Best Supporting Actress), Elsa Lanchester and George Brent all turn in brilliant performances. But perhaps it's not unfair to say that the real stars here are the technical staff? Siodmak expands his talent and knowing from his work at Universal Pictures (Son Of Dracula/The Suspect), Albert D'Agostino's sets are wondrous period delights and Nicholas Musuraca's deep-focus photography has the ability to make one keep looking over the shoulder to see if something is lurking in the room with us...

There's quite a few changes in this adaptation from the novel, notably the setting was in England and Helen was a cripple and not mute. But few could seriously argue that The Spiral Staircase in silver screen form is anything but a triumphant piece of classic cinema. 10/10
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By A Customer on 6 July 2003
Format: DVD
A genuinely scary film that must have been way ahead of its time. Look out for the 'peeping eye' scenes. Made the hair on the back of my neck stand up!!!!!!!!!! Although the identity of the killer was a tad predictable...this did not detract from the point of the film. Great winter's night viewing!
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This is a clever clever film. It grips from the word go.
All the classic ingredients of gothic melodrama are here - wind, rain, mansions, deranged killer on the loose. Dorothy Maguire's central performance as a traumatised young woman who is unable to speak ratchets up the thrill level without any of the usual campy cliches.
This is a stylish and absorbing film. Beautifully presented and with wonderful central roles. A genuine classic and thoroughly recommended
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If your requirements are a good storyline that keeps you interested until the end, decent acting and you don't mind black & white cinematography, this could be the perfect film for late night suspense. Dorothy McGuire is fantastic in this gem of a film that Hitchcock would have been proud of. Atmospheric, haunting with that impending sense of doom, together with tight performances from the supporting cast including the legendary Ethel Barrymore, make this iconic film a one to savour.

Considering the film was made in 1944, the black and white print is exquisite as is the dvds audio.

Grab a truly great film and treat yourself to a wonderful experience that you can return to on those dark winter nights.
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When i started to watch The spiral staircase, i thought it was going to be a bit pathetic, and i still think the begining could have been better, but ,as the film went on it became a very good film, not a classic but certainly worth watching and i am glad i brought it. It is the story of a murder choosing female victims that have some sort of disablity,and although i found the end easy to predict , it still had chilling moments.
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By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 26 April 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I must admit that over the years I have seen this many times on the telly, so I was more than happy when I decided to see if it was on dvd, and found it. This black and white film is based on the novel ‘Some Must Watch’ (by Ethel Lina White), and was directed by Robert Siodmak.

In a small American town a serial killer seems to be on the loose, his penchant is for young women who have disabilities. Helen Capel who has been a mute since childhood, due to events that she witnessed is an obvious victim for the killer. Helen is a servant in the Warren household, which is pretty much isolated. On a stormy night there is already one murder in the house, will Helen be the next?

Perhaps a bit too melodramatic at times, this is a film that many have enjoyed since it was first shown at the cinema back in 1946. Fans of Hitchcock should enjoy this as it a good little thriller, full of suspense. With gothic undertones and a good cast, this is something that is always worth watching.

The sound and picture quality are good on this, but a warning as to the sound level, you may have to significantly turn up the volume level as it is very quiet.
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