Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Spiral Staircase (1945)

Purchase from Barnes & Noble
Here's a movie that kept me riveted to the screen when I saw it on television as a kid in the 60's.

The Spiral Staircase, directed by Robert Siodmak, is a psychological thriller. Based on Ethel Lina White's novel Some Must Watch, in which the heroine was crippled rather than mute, the novel was adapted for a radio production starring Helen Hayes before reaching the screen.

Her performance in the movie earned Ethel Barrymore an Oscar nomination in 1947 for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

Beautiful young mute Helen is a domestic worker for old ailing Mrs. Warren. Mrs. Warren's two sons, Albert (a professor) and womanizing impudent Steven, also live in the Warren mansion. Mrs. Warren becomes concerned for Helen's safety when a rash of murders involving 'women with afflictions' hits the neighborhood. She implores her physician, Dr. Parry, to take Helen away for her own safety. When another murder occurs inside the Warren mansion, it becomes obvious that Helen is in danger.

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