Friday, October 24, 2014
The Uninvited is one of my all-time most favorite ghost stories -- and a favorite of mine to watch at Halloween. It has a good cast, with Ray Milland (then in his heyday), Ruth Hussey, Gail Russell, Donald Crisp, Alan Napier, Cornelia Otis Skinner, and Barbara Everest (who also co-starred in the marvelous Gaslight the same year). The script by Frank Partos and Dodie Smith is very good, with excellent economy of lines and good dialogue. Cinematographer Charles Lang was nominated for an Oscar, only to lose to Joseph LaShelle (who won for his work on another mystery film, Laura).
The art direction was by Hans Dreier (Ministry of Fear, Going My Way, Double Indemnity, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Five Graves to Cairo, Road to Morocco, The Palm Beach Story, The Glass Key, Holiday Inn, The Lady Eve, Dr. Cyclops, and Union Pacific) and and Ernst Fegté. Fegté both worked with Dreier a lot, and on his own. Both men were nominated in 1944 for their work on Five Graves to Cairo. Dreier had been nominated for an Oscar a whopping THIRTEEN times between 1929 and 1944 -- including two nominations in 1944, for Five Graves to Cairo and For Whom the Bell Tolls. He'd be nominated another seven times, winning for Frenchman's Creek (1944). He'd also win TWO Oscars for art direction in 1951: One for B&W art direction in Sunset Blvd. (1950) and one for color art direction for Samson and Delilah (1949). Fegté would be nominated again for The Princess and the Pirate (1944) and Destination Moon (1950), and win for Frenchman's Creek (1944).
This was set decorator Stephen Seymour's seventh film. But he'd already done some great work (So Proudly We Hail!, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, Hail the Conquering Hero, and Going My Way), and been nominated for an Oscar for Louisiana Purchase (1941).
No wonder the sets are fantastic!!!
The Uninvited was the first Hollywood film to portray a haunting as an authentic supernatural event. Previously, ghosts had often been played for comedy, as practical jokes, or as a means of covering up criminal activity.