Criterion Collection: The Uninvited

( 1 )

Overview

The Uninvited is one of the rare Hollywood ghost stories that does not cop out with a "logical" ending. In fact, the film has more in common with British ghost tales of the period, in that the characters calmly accept spectral visitations as though they were everyday occurrences. Roderick Fitzgerald Ray Milland and his sister, Pamela Ruth Hussey, buy a house on the Cornish seacoast, never suspecting that it is a "bad" house, subject to haunting. Before long, Roderick and Pamela are visited by Stella Meredith Gail...
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Overview

The Uninvited is one of the rare Hollywood ghost stories that does not cop out with a "logical" ending. In fact, the film has more in common with British ghost tales of the period, in that the characters calmly accept spectral visitations as though they were everyday occurrences. Roderick Fitzgerald Ray Milland and his sister, Pamela Ruth Hussey, buy a house on the Cornish seacoast, never suspecting that it is a "bad" house, subject to haunting. Before long, Roderick and Pamela are visited by Stella Meredith Gail Russell, whose late mother, it is said, is the house ghost. It is further supposed that the ghost means to do Stella harm. Stella's grandfather Commander Beech Donald Crisp is close-mouthed on the issue, but it is clear he knows something that he isn't telling. Sure enough, there is a secret to the manor: it is inhabited by not one but two ghosts, one of whom is merely trying to shield Stella from harm. Once the film's deep dark secret is revealed courtesy of a virtuoso "mad speech" by supporting actress Cornelia Otis Skinner, Roderick is able to single-handedly exorcise the estate and claim Stella as his bride. Based on the novel by Dorothy Macardle with a few uncredited "lifts" from Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, The Uninvited remains one of the spookiest "old dark house" films ever made, even after years of inundation by computer-generated special effects. Less effective was the 1945 sequel, The Unseen, which starts well but degenerates into a substandard murder mystery.
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Special Features

New 2K digital restoration; New visual essay by flmmaker Michael Almereyda; Two radio adaptations, from 1944 and 1949, both starring Ray Milland; Trailer; Plus: a booklet featuring an essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme and a 1997 interview with director Lewis Allen
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Most horror movies, especially those made after the 1960s or thereabouts, tend to be loud, busy, and full of big moments. The Uninvited is a bit of an anomaly, being for the most part rather more nuanced and understated. Yet, it still manages to provide suspense, thrills, and chills and comes off as immensely satisfying. Like some of the films of Val Lewton, it's more concerned with suggesting rather that showing, and therefore lets the viewer's imagination work harder and for greater rewards. Of course, this would count for little and indeed would backfire if the screenplay and direction were less polished and assured; fortunately, both are top-notch -- atmospheric, taut, inevitable yet surprising, and filled with delightful touches. The Uninvited is greatly aided by its cast, especially Ray Milland, who is charming, debonair and commanding; Donald Crisp, who is appealingly gruff; a delightful Ruth Hussey; and Cornelia Otis Skinner, who gives a wonderful lunatic turn. True, Gail Russell is slightly bland, but she doesn't really damage the film -- especially not as shot by Charles B. Lang, whose cinematography is top-notch throughout and is key to the film's ultimate effectiveness. The Uninvited is highly recommended, whether one is a ghost flick fan or not.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/22/2013
  • UPC: 715515111911
  • Original Release: 1944
  • Rating:

  • Source: Criterion
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Subtitled / B&W / Pan & Scan
  • Time: 1:39:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 702

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Ray Milland Roderick Fitzgerald
Ruth Hussey Pamela Fitzgerald
Donald Crisp Commander Beech
Cornelia Otis Skinner Miss Holloway
Dorothy Stickney Miss Bird
Barbara Everest Lizzie Flynn
Alan Napier Dr. Scott
Gail Russell Stella Meredith
Jessica Newcombe Miss Ellis
John Kiernan Foreword Narrator
Rita Page Annie, Maid
Norman Ainsley Chauffeur
David Clyde Boot Owner
Helena Grant Servant
Lynda Grey Body for Portrait
Holmes Herbert Charlie Jessup
Leyland Hodgson Taxi Driver
George Kirby Gas Station Attendant
Queenie Leonard Mrs. Taylor
Moyna MacGill Mrs. Coatsworthy
Ottola Nesmith Mrs. Carlton
Evan Thomas Col. Carlton
Betty Farrington Voice Only
Elizabeth Russell Portrait of Mary Meredith
Technical Credits
Lewis Allen Director
Charles Brackett Producer
Hans Dreier Art Director
Farciot Edouart Special Effects
Ernst Fegte Art Director
Doane Harrison Editor
Edith Head Costumes/Costume Designer
Charles B. Lang Cinematographer
Frank Partos Screenwriter
Stephen Seymour Set Decoration/Design
Dodie Smith Screenwriter
Wally Westmore Makeup
Victor Young Score Composer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Uninvited
1. The Haunted Shores
2. An Offer for Windward House
3. The New Owners
4. Afternoon Sailing
5. Sleeping Beauty Magic
6. "It Comes From Everywhere and Nowhere"
7. "Say a Little Prayer"
8. "To Stella by Starlight"
9. Mimosa
10. "Are You My Mother?"
11. The Mary Meredith Retreat
12. To The Cliff and the Rocks Below
13. "The Danger is For You!"
1. Color Bars
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Menu

Disc #1 -- The Uninvited
   Play the Movie
   Chapters
   Giving Up the Ghost
      Play
   Radio Adaptations
      Screen Guild Theater: August 28, 1944
      Screen Director's Playhouse: November 18, 1949
   Trailer
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2013

    This is one of the best ghost stories on film, one of a kind and

    This is one of the best ghost stories on film, one of a kind and truly scary. The atmosphere is suitably creepy and the effects, while minimal to today's standards, are remarkable and well, effective. A ghost story has to have credibility, and less is always more where FX are concerned. This film is never boring, and it will make you think twice about walking down that long hallway when you have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. "The Uninvited" was worth the wait, as the Criterion edition gives it the justice this classic rightly deserves. Very highly recommended.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews