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An unusual suspense film, The Spiral Staircase tells the story of a mute servant girl threatened by a murderer who has a penchant for killing the handicapped. Ethel Barrymore, Elsa Lanchester, and George Brent co-star, while Dorothy McGuire expertly captures the dilemma of the mute Helen Capel. Capel, who has not been able to speak since childhood, must somehow call for help before becoming the killer's next victim. McGuire's performance carries the film far past any B-movie qualities in the plot, and the last line is one of the most memorable in film history. Silent movie buffs will especially enjoy the opening scene, which takes place at a turn-of-the-century movie parlor. --Mark Savary --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The cast is full of seasoned pros: George Brent, Kent Smith, a very young and beautiful Rhonda Fleming.... and special mention deserve the performances of Elsa Lanchester, as a maid with a likeness for booze...and Sara Allgood, as a stern nurse.
The film is rich in atmosphere, has an eerie quality, and an excellent camera work.
The dvd edition is good.
If you like thrillers, this one is for you.
As viewers we speculate on who the culprit can be. The local Constable (James Bell) has a theory that it is someone from the town and that it will be hard to detect the perpetrator.
Helen (Dorothy McGuire) is a psychological mute. Everyone tells her she is next but she is not to worry because she is being protected. Mrs. Warren (Ethel Barrymore) tells her to get out before it is too late. Professor Warren (George Brent) tells her to just get fixed. Dr. Parry (Kent Smith) says I can take you somewhere where you might get fixed; he tries a little bit of experimenting himself. Steve Warren (Gordon Oliver) says "Lever be." I think he likes silent women.
Looks like the perpetrator could be anyone is all we see is an eye and a glove.
Maybe you can guess and maybe you cannot. But in any event will be on the edge of your seat.
A small rural town is being plagued by a serial killer; he only preys on young women who are handicapped, either mentally or physically. I'll leave you to speculate on the Freudian subtext there.
So unsurprisingly people are worried about Helen, a young mute woman (although for some reason, Helen doesn't seem concerned much). Helen lives in an old gothic mansion some miles from town, working as the companion to an elderly, crabby lady who keeps uttering vague warnings of death'n'doom. Also present: an exasperated nurse, the cook and her hubby, and the old lady's son and stepson.
So when a thunderstorm hits and the old woman has an attack of... whatever she's suffering from, Helen's doctor boyfriend goes rushing off to get ether. However, someone is watching Helen from inside the house, and this person is determined to kill her before the night is out...
As a mystery, "The Spiral Staircase" is pretty flawed. Helen spends the entire movie ignoring warnings of death'n'doom from... pretty much everybody, then is apparently shocked when the serial killer goes after her. Also: it's kind of obvious from the start who the murderer is, if nothing else because all the red herrings point so strongly to the only other suspect. It would have been nice if they had made us wonder about the other characters.
But as a psychological thriller, this is a solid piece of work.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Better than some of Dorothy McGuire's movies. Enjoyed it.Published 2 months ago by Johanna Booker Walker
I bought this movie but cannot view it..I try to play the disc and my DVD player says cannot play disc?Isn't it viewable in Canada?:(Published 15 months ago by Rachael Verma
Excellent sur toute la ligne. Produit de première qualité et expédié rapidement ! Read morePublished on Feb. 1 2013 by MFJ
First watched this as a small child and was scared to death. I had to see it again to understand why it had frightened me so much. Read morePublished on Dec 20 2012 by Betty Joan Miller
Robert Siodmak was a wonderful director of the film noir ,perhaps the result of his grounding in silent German Expressionist cinema and he brings that era's trademark use of... Read morePublished on June 26 2004 by F. J. Harvey
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