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The Uninvited

The Uninvited (1944), starring Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey, Gail Russell

Synopsis of The Uninvited

The Uninvited is a ghost story about a brother and sister. They buy a seaside house, and soon become involved in ghost hunting. And become involved in the life of a young woman who’s involved with the ghost.

Review of The Uninvited

Ruth Hussey and Ray Milland in The Uninvited

The Uninvited is an unusual ghost story, that plays more like a murder mystery. The mystery deals with who the ghost is, how it was murdered, and why.

The story begins when a brother and sister stumble across a vacant old house on the west of England. They buy it, despite being warned by the owner, Commander Beech. The house belonged to Beech’s daughter, Mary Meredith. Mary seemingly committed suicide by jumping off the nearby cliff. And his granddaughter Stella Meredith, now a young woman, lived there until she was 3 years old.

Roderick and Pamela pay no mind to the stories, but find that there is a ghost in the house. Or is that ghosts? They think that the spirit is Beech’s daughter … But the ghost has animus against her own daughter Stella. Beech is convinced that his granddaughter is in danger in that house and seeks the assistance of the family’s one-time nurse, Miss Holloway. She too however, has own secrets. With the assistance of the local doctor, Dr. Scott, they begin to unravel the truth of what happened all those years ago.

Cast of The Uninvited - Ray Milland, Barbara Everest, Ruth Hussey, Gail Russell
Cast of The Uninvited – Ray Milland, Barbara Everest, Ruth Hussey, Gail Russell

Final thoughts

In all, I enjoyed The Uninvited, but not without reservations. The acting is good by all involved, with good cinematography. The pace seems a little slow, and the main cast all appear to be simply too nice. They’re somewhat two-dimensional. In a real sense, by the end of the movie, the characters of the ghosts are better defined than the living.

Cast of characters in The Uninvited

  • Roderick “Rick” Fitzgerald (Ray Milland, The Lost WeekendFrogsX: The Man with X-Rays Eyes). A musical composer who also writes for a newspaper. He begins falling for Stella.
  • Pamela Fitzgerald (Ruth HusseyFlight CommandMaisieThe Facts of Life). Rick’s sister, who first falls in love with the house. She’s a kind, sympathetic person, who wants to help Stella.
  • Stella Meredith (Gail RussellAngel and the Badman). The Commander’s granddaughter, who initially doesn’t want them the Fitzgeralds to move into “her mother’s” house. And is nearly driven off the cliff to her death … like her mother. And begins falling in ock with Rick.
  • Commander Beech (Donald CrispDr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941), National Velvet). The elderly initial owner of the house, who sells it to the Fitzgeralds at a rock-bottom price. After warning them about the story of the house being haunted. And he doesn’t want his granddaughter to step into the house.
  • Miss Holloway (Cornelia Otis SkinnerThe Girl in the Red Velvet Swing). A very strange person — just shy of eerie. Supposedly the best friend of Stella’s mother, who now runs a “rest home”.
  • Lizzie Flynn (Barbara EverestPhantom of the Opera (1943), El Cid). The Fitzgeralds’ servant. Who soon becomes terrified of the unseen, moaning ghost.
  • Dr. Scott (Alan NapierBatmanThe Mole PeopleThe Invisible Man Returns). The village doctor who takes care of Stella who nearly runs off the cliff. Who later leads them in a seance. And, with the records of his predecessor, starts to unravel the mystery of who murdered whom. And why.

Editorial review of The Uninvited courtesy of Amazon.com

Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey in The Uninvited

One of the spookiest ghost stories ever put to film, The Uninvited is also one of the few classic haunted-house movies to treat the subject with respect and seriousness. Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey play a brother and sister who leave the city to live in a beautiful old house dramatically perched on a cliff overlooking the Cornish coast. As they discover some of the house”s peculiarities–the unexplained chill that settles in certain rooms, the aroma of mimosas that wafts through the house, flowers that wilt when brought inside–they are told by local girl Gail Russell that the house is haunted, by the spirit of Russell”s mother no less.

The rationalist city folk first scoff at the idea but as Milland slowly falls in love with the frightened girl he investigates the legends and discovers some startling hidden truths. Donald Crisp costars as Russell”s humorless, hard-bitten grandfather who forbids her visits to the house. Handsomely shot against the beautiful Cornish countryside, director Lewis Allen wisely suggests more than he shows and the uneasy tone and quietly restrained direction looks forward to such films as The Haunting and The Legend of Hell House. Though Allen ultimately reveals a suitably spine-tingling apparition, some of the film”s best moments are chilling in their simplicity: nocturnal moans, slamming doors, and the dog”s whimpering fear of the upstairs. –Sean Axmaker

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