An unusual and fascinating item: a ghost story that takes itself seriously. Milland and his sister, Hussey, buy a house on the Cornish cliffs and are soon bedeviled by phenomena such as cold spots in rooms, the smell of mimosas permeating the air, and the dog refusing to go upstairs. They
are often visited by a local girl, Russell, whose grandfather, Crisp, forbids her to go into the house. It's suspected that the place is haunted by the spirit of Russell's mother, who fell from the cliffs to her death. More strange things happen, such as flowers wilting immediately in a room, and
eventually the phantom itself is seen at the top of the stairs (one of the most convincing and scary ghosts to appear on the screen). Russell is confined by her grandfather to an asylum, but Milland and Hussey figure out that it is not one but two ghosts that haunt their home, carrying their
rivalry from life beyond the grave. They eventually solve the mystery surrounding the death of Russell's mother, and when they do the spirits depart.
This film was greatly influenced by Val Lewton's productions for RKO in which the horror is only suggested, and almost never shown--for the monster in one's mind is much more frightening than the one on the screen. Some of the film doesn't work so well; it drags in spots and much of it seems a
direct cop from REBECCA (house on the cliffs, scary folks coming in and out talking about the dead woman who lived there before, etc., and the advertising for the film went out of its way to compare itself to the Hitchcock film). Milland is as good as ever, and the rest of the cast does an
admirable job, particularly Crisp and Skinner. Although the film garnered favorable reviews and decent returns at the box office, it would be many years before Hollywood would get serious about the spirit world again (THE HAUNTING).
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- Rating: NR
- Review: An unusual and fascinating item: a ghost story that takes itself seriously. Milland and his sister, Hussey, buy a house on the Cornish cliffs and are soon bedeviled by phenomena such as cold spots in rooms, the smell of mimosas permeating the air, and the… (more)