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That Ghost in THE UNINVITED


TomJH
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I was watching the Criterion release of THE UNIVITED a few weeks ago, and started to wonder if I recognized the actress that briefly materializes as the ghost at the top of the staircase at the film's ending.

 

Here's a shot of her. Unfortunately, this image of the ghost's face is not as sharp as she briefly becomes in the film itself.

 

uninvited_zps6c1c1a01.png

 

I strongly suspect, however, that it may have been character actress Elizabeth Russell, probably best remembered by film buffs today for her appearances in a few of the Val Lewton chillers of the '40s, in particular, as the woman who looks like a cat in Cat People, as well as her participation in Curse of the Cat People as the tragic lady who hangs herself at the film's end.

 

imagesCATW2BOQ_zps314b5cc2.jpg

 

6036092_ori1_zpsa02f750d.jpg

 

I haven't heard of any source that has identified the actress used to play the ghost in The Uninvited (assuming that it was played by a real person, of course).

 

Any opinions?

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Yeah, you might be right here, Tom. There does seem to be a resemblance between the ghost captured in your still from that film and the shots of Miss Russell here.

 

However, I just want to say here that while I've always liked this film, I've also thought the ending showing the ghost weakened the film a bit.

 

Maybe it's because my favorite "ghost" movie and one which I first saw years before I caught this Milland starring film has always been THE HAUNTING, and one which never actually shows any apparitions and thus allows the audience the luxury of using their imaginations. And when I finally did catch THE UNINVITED about a decade ago, a film which until the ending does the same thing, I thought showing the ghost sort of took a little bit of the "mystique" away from it, and even though the special effects are excellently done, and especially considering the era in which it was done.

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Interesting musings, Tom baby. Sounds like this lady specialized in appearing in ghost movies. (And disappearing, ha ha. sorry.)

 

I can't answer your question, but I can and will make a comment or two on The Uninvited.

 

I really like this spooky little yarn. It's got that English coastal setting, for one thing. Ok, it's fake, it's really California. My husband always likes to spoil the illusion by pointing out that sort of thing. I say, California, Schmalifornia. In my imagination, it's Cornwall.

It's also got Ray Milland in a very likable role, playing romantic lead opposite that sweet, sad-eyed girl,Gail Russell. 

I think we're supposed to think that the formidable Miss Holloway had a thing for Stella's "mother"; she's kind of like the Mrs. Danvers (who had a thing for Rebecca) of Devonshire.

 

Also...maybe things were different back then, come to think of it, this is not the first old movie I've seen with a brother and sister who are very cozy with each other. Still, the fact that these two are planning to buy and set up a house together - siblings who must both be over 25 - seems a little odd. 

 

A note on its scariness factor: Unlike my other two favourite truly scary ghost movies, 

The Innocents and The Haunting, The Uninvited did not scare me after my first viewing. I still like it, I find it entertaining and kind of sweet, even. But for some reason the ghost only scared me the first time I saw it. Maybe -spoiler ! - it's because it has a happier and more resolved ending than the other two. 

But, it's still scary enough to enjoy on a dark October night. 

 

By the way, here's a clip of the song Milland's character composes for Stella. I don't usually like this kind of music, it's too self-consciously movie-ish, and grandiose, but in this film, the tune works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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By the way, here's a clip of the song Milland's character composes for Stella. I don't usually like this kind of music, it's too self-consciously movie-ish, and grandiose, but in this film, the tune works.

 

 

I don't know if Victor Young wrote the song for the film or not.   The words to the song were added 2 years after the movie was made.    Harmonically the song is complex.   I don't know if that is 'movie-ish' songwritting but the song does have a grandiose feel to it.        The chord changes are not easy to solo over.   This is why the song is very popular with jazz musicians looking for a challenge.     Most play it up tempo which removes some of that grandiose feel.      A favorite of mine and the song I'll ask a musician to play (e.g. a piano player in a bar),   when they are willing to take request. 

 

I also love that scene in the movie.   While Gail Russell had a sad life and only a so-so career her screen persona is perfect for her role in The Uninvited.

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Yeah, you might be right here, Tom. There does seem to be a resemblance between the ghost captured in your still from that film and the shots of Miss Russell here.

 

However, I just want to say here that while I've always liked this film, I've also thought the ending showing the ghost weakened the film a bit.

 

Maybe it's because my favorite "ghost" movie and one which I first saw years before I caught this Milland starring film has always been THE HAUNTING, and one which never actually shows any apparitions and thus allows the audience the luxury of using their imaginations. And when I finally did catch THE UNINVITED about a decade ago, a film which until the ending does the same thing, I thought showing the ghost sort of took a little bit of the "mystique" away from it, and even though the special effects are excellently done, and especially considering the era in which it was done.

I do understand your point about the ghost making an appearance in The Uninvited, Dargo. Still, as you pointed out, the special ghostly effects in the film are so excellent and relatively subtle (none of that overblown CGI stuff that bombards the screen today) that I enjoy it anyway.

 

The conclusion does seem a little happy endingish pat, I admit. It certainly doesn't stay with you like the ending of The Haunting, an admittedly far more chilling ghost film.

 

If I had a chief criticism of The Uninvited it would probably be that I find the story itself to be a little involved in the telling. Which ghost did what to whom and when kind of thing. But that's a minor criticism of what I still rank as one of my two favourite ghost films (along with The Haunting).

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I really like this spooky little yarn. It's got that English coastal setting, for one thing. Ok, it's fake, it's really California. My husband always likes to spoil the illusion by pointing out that sort of thing. I say, California, Schmalifornia. In my imagination, it's Cornwall.

It's also got Ray Milland in a very likable role, playing romantic lead opposite that sweet, sad-eyed girl,Gail Russell. 

I think we're supposed to think that the formidable Miss Holloway had a thing for Stella's "mother"; she's kind of like the Mrs. Danvers (who had a thing for Rebecca) of Devonshire.

 

Also...maybe things were different back then, come to think of it, this is not the first old movie I've seen with a brother and sister who are very cozy with each other. Still, the fact that these two are planning to buy and set up a house together - siblings who must both be over 25 - seems a little odd. 

 

A note on its scariness factor: Unlike my other two favourite truly scary ghost movies, 

The Innocents and The Haunting, The Uninvited did not scare me after my first viewing. I still like it, I find it entertaining and kind of sweet, even. But for some reason the ghost only scared me the first time I saw it. Maybe -spoiler ! - it's because it has a happier and more resolved ending than the other two. 

But, it's still scary enough to enjoy on a dark October night. 

 

By the way, here's a clip of the song Milland's character composes for Stella. I don't usually like this kind of music, it's too self-consciously movie-ish, and grandiose, but in this film, the tune works.

 

Thanks for the fun review of The Uninvited, misswonderly.

 

I do agree with you that it is not a particularly scary film. But it is elegantly photographed and moody as heck. I LOVE(!!!) the atmosphere of this film's "Cornish" setting on the edge of a cliff, with all those splashing waves down below.

 

Much of the lightness of the film, I feel, comes through Ray Milland's performance. Milland had a period, particularly during the war years when he was making such films as Major and the Minor, Reap the Wild Wind, Ministry of Fear and this film, when he was a delightfully dapper, droll screen presence, not to mention a darn good looking leading man, as well.

 

That light touch that Milland brings to the material here, his attitude, line delivery, a few mildly amusing facial reactions, bring a comforting presence to the production, I feel. And Milland's initial cynicism about ghosts is key for audience identification, especially as he becomes a believer before the film's end. (That kind of character, the cynic-who-gets-scared-to-death before the film's ending was even more apparent with Russ Tamblyn in The Haunting).

 

There is also a sad haunting quality about Gail Russell, crucial casting in the film because the story really becomes a tale about whether or not her emotionally vulnerable character will survive.

 

Russell took up drinking during the making of this film to steady her nerves. Most of us know that she had a tragic life, which included alcoholism and impaired driving accidents. She was found alone in her home dead, with a few empty bottles on the floor around her in 1961. A very sad story.

 

However, according to a commentary on the Criterion Uninvited disc, according to a radio disc jockey in the town where she died (sorry, I forget the name of the town), Gail Russell use to occasionally call his station to anonymously request that they play Stella By Starlight, the romantic theme music of Victor Young's composed for The Uninvited. The disc jockey said he recognized Russell's voice.

 

And the last time that he said Russell called his station with that same request? He heard that voice the evening before she died, and never heard it again.

 

uninvited5_zpse348943d.jpg

 

(Okay, I added the "and never heard it again" for dramatic impact, I admit).

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Here's a shot of her. Unfortunately, this image of the ghost's face is not as sharp as she briefly becomes in the film itself.

 

Meanwhile.. just looking at that pic STILL gives me the heebie jeebies, every time I see it, ha (even if it's not as sharp as it could be or not) 

 

Perhaps my "fear factor" has a lower threshold than some, ha. I am not a huge horror fan, but I do like a good ole fashioned "fun" scary movie. And I have always found this film pleasantly frightening. It's probably one of my favorite "ghostly tales".  

 

Movies are nothing if not subjective, so while others may prefer the creepier or more hair-raising stuff, I guess I just like a good "cover my eyes" moment in a story every now and then, ha (instead of every five seconds) Guess I prefer to not have to go run and hide under the bed, too often, just to make it to the end credits. :D  

 

But maybe that's just me. :) 

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I have a friend who believes in ghosts and has an extremely interesting tale of claiming to have encountered a pair in her youth. In a visit to my home she told me, rather casually, that she had seen a couple of partial entities here. (I have never seen a thing, of course).

 

I took her report rather casually myself. When I asked her in which room she saw them, I was surprised that she told me it was in a room in which a suicide had occurred before I moved here. My friend, by the way, knew nothing about the suicide. I know it's undoubtedly just a coincidence but I found it a curious one.

 

Unless . . . of course . .. she really did see . . . .NAH! I won't even go there!

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I was watching the Criterion release of THE UNIVITED a few weeks ago, and started to wonder if I recognized the actress that briefly materializes as the ghost as the top of the staircase at the film's ending.

 

Here's a shot of her. Unfortunately, this image of the ghost's face is not as sharp as she briefly becomes in the film itself.

 

uninvited_zps6c1c1a01.png

 

 

Any opinions?

 

Looks like a guy to me.

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This movie has been a favorite of mine since childhood.  Along with THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (another movie supposedly set on the English coast, but filmed in California-the Monterey/Carmel area, as were many other films back then), this is a very good, more sweet than scary, ghost story.  My only problem with it are the relationships.....Milland must've been quite a bit older than Russell; agewise, he is more suited to sister Ruth Hussey (but then, maybe they were).

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Thanks, Fred.

 

Looks like I was ready to give Elizabeth Russell an undeserved uncredited credit.

 

Still, imdb is not infallible, and I wish I could find a photograph of Lynda Grey to see what she looked like.

possibly....

Lynda Grey from "Shadows Over Shanghai"

Lynda-Grey-as-Irene-Roma.jpg

 

gotta vote for Ms. Russell though ;)

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This is one of my favorite movies, including non-ghost stories.  It hits all my pleasure points:  gorgeous seaside mansion (one of my movie dream houses), ghost, the sea, wonderful actors, seance, adorable dog, and a memorable song, not to mention Cornelia Otis Skinner and the kindly doctor.

 

Alas, Miss W burst my bubble that it wasn't actually filmed in Cornwall.  :unsure:

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...Alas, Miss W burst my bubble that it wasn't actually filmed in Cornwall.  :unsure:

 

I know, eh? As I said in my post, it's my husband who's always doing that sort of thing. He's always barking out things like "painted backdrop!" or "rear screen projection!" or "wild track!" or (as in the case of The Uninvited, but also many other movies made around that time, as our friend Arturo has mentioned), "that's not really England, you know, it's California."

 

I always tell him to shut up, that I don't care, and I don't want to be reminded that there's a "painted backdrop" or "wild track" or whatever the movie-making artifice is that he seems to notice so much. I tell him, "if you were really engaged in this movie, you wouldn't notice or care about that stuff." He always says he's "just pointing it out". 

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possibly....

Lynda Grey from "Shadows Over Shanghai"

Lynda-Grey-as-Irene-Roma.jpg

 

gotta vote for Ms. Russell though ;)

Thanks, mr6666, for the photo of Grey.

 

Not much resemblance, based on that pix, to the Uninvited ghost, is there? Can't base any conclusion on just one picture, though.

 

My pick of Elizabeth Russell is still an interesting possibility.

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Elizabeth Russell DID play the ghost in THE UNINVITED. Read about this in a book on films.

I've a link to Google Books stating that Elizabeth Russell was a ghost in The Uninvited.

 

http://books.google.ca/books?id=Tla20AU48uMC&pg=PA371&lpg=PA371&dq=elizabeth+russell+%2B+the+uninvited+1944&source=bl&ots=0ODc36S5wQ&sig=tf07HyMckt0_xNMP6yTyA9e_p5w&hl=en&sa=X&ei=gBUqVP6oKomNyAS-94LwCg&ved=0CEEQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=elizabeth%20russell%20%2B%20the%20uninvited%201944&f=false

 

And here's a note from TCM saying that she posed for the face of the portrait of Mary Meredith, with Lynda Grey the model for the body:

 

 

http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/94482/The-Uninvited/notes.html

 

 

By the way, just a coincidence, but Gail Russell's real name was Elizabeth Russell.

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By the way, like so many others, I love Victor Young's romantic song Stella By Starlight.

 

That report cited earlier in the thread of a washed up Gail Russell, drinking and alone, phoning a radio station to request that the song be played on the last night of her life, I find to be very sad and poignant.

 

1bb41014-9a3c-4924-9ff5-7840f2387f8c_zps

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I know, eh? As I said in my post, it's my husband who's always doing that sort of thing. He's always barking out things like "painted backdrop!" or "rear screen projection!" or "wild track!" or (as in the case of The Uninvited, but also many other movies made around that time, as our friend Arturo has mentioned), "that's not really England, you know, it's California."

 

I always tell him to shut up, that I don't care, and I don't want to be reminded that there's a "painted backdrop" or "wild track" or whatever the movie-making artifice is that he seems to notice so much. I tell him, "if you were really engaged in this movie, you wouldn't notice or care about that stuff." He always says he's "just pointing it out". 

He sounds very cinematically learned.  :)  But I imagine that might get a little annoying.  :rolleyes:

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All this talk of the "letdown" in knowing of the California location filming for The UNINVITED and a story supposedlly set in England, is reminding me of MY one minor little letdown with the other film that's been mentioned in this thread, THE HAUNTING.

 

The Robert Wise film is supposed to have taken place in New England, but the film has a decidedly "British feel" to it, and because in order to save on production costs it was indeed filmed in Jolly Ole Blighty.

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Sorry Vautrin, but I have to point out here that your picture of Elvis and matched to lyrics from "Heartbreak Hotel" is JUST a bit anachronistic.

 

'Cause of course, he recorded that particular song WAY before growin' those sideburns there.

 

Now THIS is the picture you SHOULD have posted here, dude...

 

young1.jpg

 

(...btw, gotta ask...what in this thread reminded you of the guy or his song?)

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