Uninvited, The (1944)

The Uninvited (1944), directed by Lewis Allen.

An adult brother and sister find a grand old house on the sea cliff and the price is surprisingly reasonable. Haunted? No, just a few tales and a cold room, some minor inexplicable spookiness. The ghostly midnight sobbing does not begin until minute 29...

They say this is the first film to take ghosts and haunting seriously. The suspense is marred by intermittent comic relief and a romance subplot.

And yet: it shows how simple things can be the most chilling. Standing on a dark staircase, looking up: "There's something up there".

At the beginning they give a hint of bringing back something from the brother and sister's childhood, but then dropped it. That's how a modern film would do it: hauntings are a projection of interpersonal psychodrama. A worthy plot device, but overused.

Haunted-eyed Gail Russell is only 20 here. She had a troubled career and personal life. I last saw her in Seven Men from Now (1956).

Victor Young score. His "Stella by Starlight" first appears here; it became a jazz standard. Costumes by Edith Head.

Criterion Blu-ray. The black levels are only fair. This title was unavailable on home video for a long time.