The Uninvited (1944)

the uninvited 1944 poster
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Nice ghost story from the classic period

Some of the mystery seems obvious

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Uninvited

Studio:  Paramount Pictures

Genre(s):   Horror/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  February 10, 1944

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

uninvited ouija seance ray milland ruth hussey gail russell alan napier

Maybe if we used an official “Ouija” board by Hasbro, it would work better…

Rick Fitzgerald (Ray Milland) and his sister Pamela (Ruth Hussey) have found a house that reminds them of their childhood.  Windward seems to be the perfect fit, but the Fitzgeralds learn immediately that the home houses a mystery and a possible apparition intent on causing harm to Stella Meredith (Gail Russell) whose mother perished in the house under mysterious circumstances.  With Stella’s father Commander Beech (Donald Crisp) ordering Rick to stay away from Stella and the danger growing to Stella, Rick, Pamela, and Dr. Scott (Alan Napier) must find a way to free Stella from the spirit before it is too late!

Directed by Lewis Allen, The Uninvited is a supernatural horror-mystery.  The film adapts the 1941 novel Uneasy Freehold by Dorothy Macardle.  It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography—Black and White.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #677).

I like ghost stories, and I like classic films so The Uninvited seems like a good fit.  The movie is often cited as one of the first Hollywood films to deal with ghosts and the supernatural in a serious way which paved the way for other supernatural thrillers.

uninvited cliff scene ray milland gail russell

Ray, I’ve seen you’re future in the ’70s…you might want to jump off the cliff too

The movie itself is rather tame.  The movie is overall an actual mystery driven by the supernatural and the truth of the haunting is sought out through the course of the story.  While the characters seem more befuddled by what is going on, there are a lot of red flags in the history of Windward and Stella’s mother that should have raised red flags for the characters that something more was occurring…but jaded viewers of this decade might just be more suspicious of these things.

It is interesting that by large, most of the characters aren’t too terrified by the idea that their house is haunted.  Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey (who have an odd “brother-sister” relationship…which it seems like why the Dr. Stella-Dr. Scott relationships were made obvious) are solid, and their characters aren’t too shocked or unaccepting of the idea of a haunting.  This is also true for Alan Napier’s doctor who seems to accept it at points but dissuade it other times (despite glasses flying off tables etc).  There were criticisms that Cornelia Otis Skinner’s Miss Holloway had a very lesbian undertone to her and some critics at the time felt that they should be completely eliminated.

uninvited ghost mary ending

Hey Mary why you buggin’?

The movie goes for a very basic unseen approach to the spirits for the most part.  That is because Lewis Allen didn’t want to show the spirits at all.  The last sequences with the ghost were against his will and inserted by the studio (they were cut from the initial England release).

The Uninvited is a nice stepping stone for ghost movies that came after it.  It is the type of movie that a child could watch, but still could give a kid chills.  The mystery rises above the horror, but the nice classic style of the film helps balance out the story which is sometimes a bit uneven.  The Uninvited is rather “unseen” in modern days, and it is good to seek it out if you have a love of ghost stories.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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