Ladies in Retirement
|Ladies in Retirement|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Charles Vidor|
|Produced by||Lester Cowan|
|Screenplay by||Garrett Fort
|Based on||the play Ladies in Retirement
by Reginald Denham
|Music by||Ernst Toch
|Edited by||Al Clark|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||91 minutes|
Ladies in Retirement is an American 1941 film noir directed by Charles Vidor, and starring Ida Lupino and Louis Hayward. It is based on a 1940 Broadway play of the same title by Reginald Denham and Edward Percy which starred Flora Robson in the lead role.
Ellen Creed has been Leonora Fiske's housekeeper for a long time. Ellen's two sisters, both a bit peculiar, are evicted from their flat, so Miss Fiske grants Emily's request to have the sisters move in with them.
One day when Ellen's away, a stranger called Albert Feather turns up, claiming to be Ellen's nephew. He is in need of money so Miss Fiske goes to her hiding place and lends him some.
Ellen's sisters wear out their welcome quickly. Miss Fiske orders them out, ignoring the pleas of Ellen, who dreads them being sent to an institution. Ellen snaps. She strangles Miss Fiske to death.
First telling visitors Miss Fiske is traveling, then that she sold the house to her, Ellen hires a new maid, Lucy, who finds Albert hiding in a shed. Together they find Miss Fiske's wigs, wondering why she didn't travel with them.
A thief wanted by the law, Albert seduces Lucy, then deduces what Ellen must have done. Lucy sits at a piano, playing Miss Fiske's favorite song, wearing a wig with her back to Ellen, who screams at the sight of her and faints. Albert tries to steal the hidden money, but the police turn up and place him under arrest. Ellen can take no more and leaves the house forever for the local police station to confess to Mrs. Fiske's murder.
- Ida Lupino as Ellen Creed
- Louis Hayward as Albert Feather
- Evelyn Keyes as Lucy
- Elsa Lanchester as Emily Creed
- Edith Barrett as Louisa Creed
- Isobel Elsom as Leonora Fiske
- Emma Dunn as Sister Theresa
- Clyde Cook as Bates
- Queenie Leonard as Sister Agatha
The New York Times reviewed the film favorably, "For the film that opened yesterday at the Capitol is an exercise in slowly accumulating terror with all the psychological trappings of a Victorian thriller. It has been painstakingly done, beautifully photographed and tautly played, especially in its central role, and for the most part it catches all the script's nuances of horror quite as effectively as did the original play version ... Despite all its excellence, however, it must be added that Ladies in Retirement is a film for a proper and patient mood. It doesn't race through its story; it builds its terror step by step.
Film critic Dennis Schwartz liked the film and wrote, "Charles Vidor (Gilda/Blind Alley/The Mask of Fu Manchu) directs this delightfully creepy Grand Guignol crime drama that's based on the play by Reginald Denham and Edward Percy--which in turn was based upon the true story from 1886. It's smartly and tautly co-written by Denham and Garrett Fort, while the ensemble cast all give striking performances ... The 23-year-old Lupino played the 40-year-old sinister Ellen to ice cold perfection, with no small help from her make-up. Though stage-bound, this gothic melodrama is well-crafted and involving". It was remade in 1969 as The Mad Room."
- Academy Awards: Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Black-and-White, Lionel Banks and George Montgomery; 1942.
- Academy Awards: Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture, Morris Stoloff and Ernst Toch; 1942.
- Ladies in Retirement at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Ladies in Retirement at the Internet Movie Database
- Ladies in Retirement at AllMovie
- Ladies in Retirement at the TCM Movie Database
- Ladies in Retirement information site and DVD review at DVD Beaver (includes images)