Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Uninvited 1944

I have had this little haunted house ditty sitting in my DVR queue for quite a while.  I don't know why I put off watching it for so long, after all, I love Ray Milland, who stars here as Roderick Fitzgerald, a down on his luck composer and impulse house buyer.  It also stars Ruth Hussey as Pamela, Roderick's sister, who, I can only guess, is a spinster in training and money drain.  While on vacation the siblings decide to purchase Windward house, a gothic mansion on the English coast, for shits and giggles. 

The Fitzgerald siblings move in right away, despite being warned that the old house may be haunted.  Instead of scaring them off, it only intrigues them.  People after my own heart!

Roderick is equally intrigued by Stella Meredith, the young lady who grew up in the house.  Her Mother died under mysterious circumstances (suicide or murder: no one one knows for sure.)  Her Father died many years later, and Stella is in the care of her elderly Grandfather, Commander Beech, who sells the house to the Siblings Fitzgerald. 

Commander Beech is quite insistent that Stella never step foot inside Windward House.  As you can imagine, this makes it very difficult for Roderick to court her. 

Roderick and Pamela soon discover that the haunting rumors are true.  At night they hear a woman crying, the house has cold spots, and and certain times the air fills with the scent of Mimosa, which Stella explains was her Mother's signature scent.  Instead of running scared, the siblings decide to investigate.  They uncover all sorts of gothicky goodness.

Turns out Stella's Father was getting in on with his Spanish model Carmel.  Mary (Stella's mother) knew all about it.  Mr. Meredith finally asked Carmel to hit the road shortly after his daughter (Stella) was born.  Carmel, in a fit of rage, grabbed baby Stella and threatened to jump off the cliff.  Mary ran after them, and fell off the cliff herself, dying, as one does, in the process.  Carmel died a week later under mysterious circumstances.  This is the story told by one Miss Holloway, a former Nanny still obsessed with Mary Meredith (cue hidden lesbian themes and comparisons to Rebecca here.) 

Does Mary and Carmel haunt Windward house?  Will Roderick ever score with Stella?  Why the hell does Pamela mooch off her Brother so?  All answers are revealed in this wonderful spooky little film.  So spooky, actually, that Martin Scorsese named it one of this top horror films.  I wouldn't go that far, but the film is atmospheric and has a great storyline.  The characters, particularly Roderick and Pamela, are all interesting.  The Uninvited would make a great addition to your haunted house movie marathon.  As a bonus, the composer for this film, Victor Young, created a piano piece for Roderick to play called "Stella by Starlight."  I had no idea this jazz standard came from this film.  Enjoy!

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