The Spiral Staircase (1946 film)
|The Spiral Staircase|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Siodmak|
|Produced by||Dore Schary|
|Screenplay by||Mel Dinelli|
|Based on||the novel Some Must Watch
by Ethel Lina White
|Music by||Roy Webb|
|Edited by||Harry Gerstad|
Dore Schary Productions
|Distributed by||RKO Pictures|
The Spiral Staircase is a 1946 American psychological thriller film directed by Robert Siodmak, from a screenplay by Mel Dinelli based on Ethel Lina White's novel Some Must Watch (1933). The novel was adapted for a radio production starring Helen Hayes before reaching the screen.
Set in early 20th century New England, the film is about a serial killer who murders disabled young women in the community. His next victim apparently is Helen (McGuire), a mute girl working as a live-in companion for the wealthy, bedridden Mrs. Warren (Barrymore).
Mrs. Warren urges her to leave the house, as does Dr. Parry, who knows the reason for Helen's loss of speech and hopes to help her get her voice back. Rounding out the household are Mrs. Warren's son and stepson, her verbally abused nurse, a secretary, a handyman and his wife, a housekeeper with a taste for brandy.
- Dorothy McGuire as Helen
- Kent Smith as Dr. Parry
- Ethel Barrymore as Mrs. Warren
- George Brent as Professor Albert Warren
- Gordon Oliver as Steven
- Rhonda Fleming as Blanche
- Elsa Lanchester as Mrs. Oates
- Sara Allgood as Nurse Barker
- Rhys Williams as Mr. Oates
- James Bell as Constable
The film earned RKO a profit of $885,000.
Film critic Dennis Schwartz wrote a positive film review, "Robert Siodmak directs a perfectly eerie stylish thriller a la Hitchcock, which even the master of suspense would be envious of, that is based on the novel Some Must Watch by Ethel Lina White ... The talented cast is superb, knowing how to get the most suspense and shocks from such a creaky thriller. But the radiant heroine performance by Dorothy McGuire as a terrified mute, who conveys her inner thoughts without dialogue, was priceless. Siodmak created a near-masterpiece, an elegant film that can be enjoyed as one of the better 'lady in distress' thrillers. There was an awful remake in 1975 starring Jacqueline Bisset, which convincingly shows that Siodmak and the cast can't be praised enough for their artistic accomplishment."
The Spiral Staircase was adapted as a half-hour radio play on the November 25, 1949 broadcast of Screen Director's Playhouse, starring Dorothy McGuire in her original role.
- "The Spiral Staircase: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved April 29, 2014.
- The Spiral Staircase at the TCM Movie Database.
- Richard Jewell & Vernon Harbin, The RKO Story. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1982. p210
- Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, January 194, 2004. Accessed: July 9, 2013.
- The Spiral Staircase at the American Film Institute Catalog
- The Spiral Staircase at the Internet Movie Database
- The Spiral Staircase at AllMovie
- The Spiral Staircase at the TCM Movie Database
- The Spiral Staircase film trailer on YouTube