Thursday, April 7, 2011

review: The Uninvited (1944)

I was just flipping through the channels before starting a movie I was decidedly not all that interested in viewing when I stumbled accross TCM and something about this movie description caught my attention. So, I figured, why not? and settled in for a Black & White classic. Always a good choice. It was nominated for an Oscar for B&W Cineamatography - so if nothing else, it would be a gorgeous film. On top of that, it was a B&W classic scary movie. Can't go wrong with that. And I didn't. This movie did not disappoint at all. Let me tell you: this is how good horror movies are to be made. Not blood and gore, just good old fashioned freaky! The story centers around a brother (Ray Milland) and sister (Ruth Hussey) who stumble accross an old abandoned home on vacation. They fall in love with it, and decide to buy it. After some initial thwarting from the owner's granddaughter (Gail Russell), they indeed become the new owners. Little did they know that they got more house than they bargained for. Something is not right about the house - and after the obligatory refusal of belief, they discover the secrets of the past and the reason why the animals won't go upstairs. First let's say this: it is a gorgeous film. Beautiful shots, and some pretty cool special effects for the time. The design of the entire film is wonderful. What impressed me most was the ability of the set and costume/make-up designers to tell you something with their work. When you watch the movie, pay close attention to the studio the first time you see it. There indeed is something chilling about the room. It's just an empty room, but there is something about it. You know there is something about it without knowing why. THAT is amazing design. As far as costuming/make-up goes, they did a fantastic job with the Mrs. Holloway character. As soon as you see her, you know there is something about her. Something not quite ... well, you'll understand. Despite a little corniness in the very beginning, you quickly get into the story and enjoy the subtle comedy as much as the thrills and romance of this film. There are only two not so great things about this film: #1 - the Broadway Musicalesque type ending where everyone is paired off. Now, don't get me wrong, I love Broadway Musicals - oh boy, do I ever. But in a movie like this, throwing a couple together at the end of the movie for happiness sake is just ... odd. Said couple is only shown alone together once before, and while they do hint at a possible romance, the sudden pronounced marriage is a little ... odd. It doesn't REALLY bother me, but it just doesn't fit quite right with the tone of the film. #2 - the not so flattering hints at homosexuality. Let's just say that one of the characters is not so pointedly lesbian. And also kinda crazy. They make her look psychotic in her affection for her friend. Maybe I was just reading too much into it. All in all, this was a WONDERFUL film. I would definately add it to my permaneant collection. 4 and 1/2 out of 5 stars