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THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE (1946) "You should run away. Leave this house tonight, if you know what's good for you."


speedracer5
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I watched this movie last night and I loved it. I could have written about this film in the "I Just Watched..." thread, but I thought that this film is worth more conversation.

 

First of all, the scenery is what made this film. Combine the horrible, raging storm outside with the old gothic Victorian home and you've got the recipe for a great gothic noir. It was almost its own character in the film. I love that the entire film (except for the brief scene at the beginning in the theater and later in the woods) took place in that house. It really lent to the claustrophobic feeling. That basement was scary--with its complete lack of light and cobwebs everywhere. When Rhonda Fleming went down there alone looking for her suitcase, I knew that nothing good could come from that. When Dorothy McGuire went down there looking for Fleming, it was even more suspenseful, because if something happened to McGuire, her "condition" would make it impossible to yell for help.

 

McGuire was fantastic. She was able to convey so much emotion without a single word, Her eyes and facial expressions were very effective. The scene where she tries to phone for help was heartbreaking. I was rooting for her to overcome her disability by the end of the film.

 

I had never seen Ethel Barrymore in a film before. She was excellent in this film. Even though her character was almost completely bedridden, in her scenes where she pleads with McGuire to leave were captivating. She has such a strong screen presence even when she isn't doing much. I loved when she was mean to the nurse whom she forced to sit in the hallway--hilarious. Barrymore's scene at end of the film was very powerful and by far the highlight of the film.

 

Barrymore's constant pleas for people to pay attention and listen to her were very sad. Of course, the two men in the film (Barrymore's son and stepson) saw her as an invalid who was just bonkers, nobody took her seriously. I believe that McGuire did take her seriously, but since she was mute she was unable to express herself to others. I also believe that McGuire's character just wanted to belong in a family and be somewhere, so she was eager to please. Since she couldn't talk, it was also harder for her to speak up for herself.

 

George Brent was also really good. I had always seen him in roles as Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyck's whipping boy. It was interesting to see him as not only a strong character but also against type. He used his eyes very effectively and I liked the psychological games he played with the other characters in the film. You didn't really know what his deal was, but knew that he was up to something.

 

I also loved Elsa Lanchester. She was hilarious in this film and also very sweet.

 

The one line in the film that made me cringe was Barrymore's son's line: "Men like to see women cry. It makes them feel superior." It fully illustrated how smarmy and creepy this character was.

 

This was a great movie and I look forward to seeing it again.

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I love this movie, Speedy.

 

I thought that originally it was not going to be available in Canada on TCM - this was changed- so I was thrilled to find out that it was available on Youtube.

 

I saw it on youtube on a tiny screen during the daytime in case it would not be available to me any other way and loved it.

 

Then I saw it on TCM as it aired on Monday night and was thrilled to be able to no have to be stationary as I watched it. 

 

I love gothic mysteries.  I have read Ethel lina White's writings including the basis of this mystery.

 

Ethel did not do as many movies as her brothers as she usually appeared on the stage.

Next Monday the first movie that is airing is Rasputin and the Empress, the only time that all three siblings appeared in an movie together.

 

I've seen some of her films.  I more familiar with Ethel and John.  I love all three of them.  Lionel is my favourite if I have to pick one.  It is more to do with the fact that he made the most movies, however.

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I like The Spiral Staircase very much. But I have to laugh at the unnatural hand behaviour (obviously done for dramatic effect) of some of the victims in this film while they're being strangled.

 

One victim, caught in the basement, upon being attacked, has both of her hands fly straight out to the side, rather than clutching at her throat to try to get the killer's hands off it.

 

If you start watching this gif of one of the victims here long enough, after a while her two hands start looking a bit like huge creepy spiders, to me, anyway.

 

 

tumblr_nyvaadW4wb1uwa65vo1_400.gif

 

By the way, one cast member of this Robert Siodmak film is still with us today - the eternally beautiful Rhonda Fleming.

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George Brent did all kinds of films - from "The Rains Came" (with Tyrone Power) to "Luxury Liner" (with Jane Powell) - and he was just fine in all of them.

 

I did not know that he was married to Ann Sheridan for only a year.

 

I can only wonder what might have happened between them.

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George Brent

I did not know that he was married to Ann Sheridan for only a year.

I can only wonder what might have happened between them.

 

I'm not lying here: someone on this website once claimed Sheridan told a reporter shortly after their split that "BRENT BENT."

 

Truth? Fiction? Who cares, at this point, I say Liberty Valance that **** and print the legend.

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when making a scary movie or thriller, you are left with two options in providing said scares or thrills, and those are:

 

to "play it fair" (ie cue the audience in before the "big scare"- usually done with music cues, sometimes a change in POV or camera angles) or to "not play it fair"- this is usually done by scaring the living crap out of the audience  by not even hinting anything is going to happen just OUT POPS THE KILLER!

 

The earliest example i can think of where a film does this- just uses no cue, no POV change, just a killer out of the blue throwing his hands on the victim occurs in HANGOVER SQUARE (1945). It seems like it would've happened before that but i cannot think of another no-warning level scare in a film ive seen made befor eit

 

...one other prominent example where this happens is WAIT UNTIL DARK, which really is not that great a movie, but is almost as popular as BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S with regard to enduring popularity, and i think that is due entirely to a scene in the finale where the killer just "pops out."

 

In THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE, Siodmak choses to play it fair with the first two kills- Blanche and the woman in the hotel- he switches to the killer's POV and spares THE AUDIENCE any real SHOCK!- that's fine...but I just CAN'T FORGIVE HIM for that shot of the killer's foot peeping out of the shadows in the climactic scene where the Helen descends to the basement. Maybe the studio demanded he do it, maybe someone felt immediate postwar audiences couldn't take it- I dunno. But it's a mistake. I tell you: had he chosen not to "play fair" and cue us in to the presence of the last "scare"- the film would be lifted up quite a deal in my opinion.

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I'm not lying here: someone on this website once claimed Sheridan told a reporter shortly after their split that "BRENT BENT."

 

Truth? Fiction? Who cares, at this point, I say Liberty Valance that **** and print the legend.

 

 

I think it is true. George was a better lover than hubby apparently. (being married many times for short periods, until the last one)...

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In THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE, Siodmak choses to play it fair with the first two kills- Blanche and the woman in the hotel- he switches to the killer's POV and spares THE AUDIENCE any real SHOCK!- that's fine...but I just CAN'T FORGIVE HIM for that shot of the killer's foot peeping out of the shadows in the climactic scene where the Helen descends to the basement. Maybe the studio demanded he do it, maybe someone felt immediate postwar audiences couldn't take it- I dunno. But it's a mistake. I tell you: had he chosen not to "play fair" and cue us in to the presence of the last "scare"- the film would be lifted up quite a deal in my opinion.

 

Back to Spiral Staircase, Lorna I agree.  I wish that the killer's foot would have stayed hidden.  The whole film I suspected someone else and seeing the shoe solved the murder for me before the climactic stair scene a few minutes later.  

 

It's weird that the basement didn't have any lights.  I realize that the house was old, but is it normal for the cellar to not have any lights at all? Not even a bare incandescent light with a pull cord? That spiral staircase was cool though.  It makes my normal 1.5 flights of carpeted stairs to my basement rather uninteresting. 

 

With some of the noir in the 1940s, this is where the production code may have negatively affected the outcome of films.  While we don't know why the killer's foot was exposed in the basement, if it wasn't Siodmark's idea and it was the studio's, then that's unfortunate.  I also think it's unfortunate that some board of white, middle-aged affluent men sat around deciding what content the audiences could handle.  I bet if given the chance, audiences at that time (especially post-WWII) could have handled more than the studios gave them credit for.  Perhaps the white, middle-aged affluent men couldn't handle it.  Lol.

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I like The Spiral Staircase very much. But I have to laugh at the unnatural hand behaviour (obviously done for dramatic effect) of some of the victims in this film while they're being strangled.

 

One victim, caught in the basement, upon being attacked, has both of her hands fly straight out to the side, rather than clutching at her throat to try to get the killer's hands off it.

 

If you start watching this gif of one of the victims here long enough, after a while her two hands start looking a bit like huge creepy spiders, to me, anyway.

 

 

 

 

By the way, one cast member of this Robert Siodmak film is still with us today - the eternally beautiful Rhonda Fleming.

 

I thought the hand movement was strange too.  The first victim I somewhat understood, because I gathered that she was in the middle of pulling her nightgown over her head which makes sense why her arms were up where they were.  I figured that the killer waited to pounce once her face was covered by her nightgown.  With Fleming, now I can't remember, but didn't he wait to kill her when she had her arms up reaching for the suitcase? 

 

I had never seen Rhonda Fleming in a film until the last two weeks or so.  First I saw her in While the City Sleeps and now The Spiral Staircase.  To me, she looks a lot like Maureen O'Hara.  

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me in blue- LHF

 

It's weird that the basement didn't have any lights.  I realize that the house was old, but is it normal for the cellar to not have any lights at all? Not even a bare incandescent light with a pull cord?

 

No, I think it makes sense. Remember: this thing is set some time in the nineteen-tens, and the house obviously predates electricity. So, no: I buy it.

 

That spiral staircase was cool though.  

 

Yeeeeah...But you know what?- it's really more of a circular staircase in the film. Sue me: but it is. I know they couldn't call the movie  that because of a popular suspense novel THE CIRCULAR STAIRCASE by Mary Roberts Rinehardt (who re-worked it- to better effect, as THE BAT) from about 20 years before... But i've read they called the film THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE to suggest the Rinehardt novel. Maybe a true spiral staircase would've been tough to film on as well (the source novel is called SOME MUST WATCH, which I guess was considered too obtuse or maybe even perverse for a mainstream picture.)

 

With some of the noir in the 1940s, this is where the production code may have negatively affected the outcome of films.  While we don't know why the killer's foot was exposed in the basement, if it wasn't Siodmark's idea and it was the studio's, then that's unfortunate.  I also think it's unfortunate that some board of white, middle-aged affluent men sat around deciding what content the audiences could handle.  I bet if given the chance, audiences at that time (especially post-WWII) could have handled more than the studios gave them credit for.  Perhaps the white, middle-aged affluent men couldn't handle it.  Lol.

 

No...well, not like i'm an expert, but IMO- the ironically named DORE SCHARY (who was the producer of the movie and was- I think- if not the head of RKO at the time, then he was "the head of production" or soon would be) made the call, for whatever reason; Siodmak seems the sort who'd want to REALLY scare you at the end of the film., but...oh God...I'll go ahead and say it, Dore wanted a SCHARY movie, not a SCARY MOVIE.

 

I'm sorry, I'll show myself out in a second...

 

Schary came from MGM and did a lot of "classy" films, very prestige, i think- oddly enough- he got the idea for THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE from JOAN CRAWFORD, who was apparently a big fan of the novel when it came out in the 1930's and pestered MGM brass for years for them to get the rights and let her star. Mayer never would. I have gone into great detail about the novel, i think in the I JUST WATCHED thread, suffice it to say I LIKE IT VERY MUCH and HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT (it can be ordered cheap used off amazon.)-

 

PS- Did you get my PM?

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Lorna - Have you read The Bat as well as see the film?

 

RE: The Spiral Staircase title:

 

I remember that when I heard there was a movie by that name that I thought it was the other mystery.  Then I realized it wasn't.

 

I think you have to think of the lighting of the cellar the same way you do.  They *may* have had gaslight. But either the gaslight or the candles, only.

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yes, i have read THE BAT- which was "co-written" by Rinehardt with Avery Hopwood (sp?)- although i think i've seen sources that claimed he wrote it all- it was a novelization of his stage adaptation of her book The Circular Staircase...

 

no matter who wrote it, i enjoyed it quite a bit- I was staying at an old-fashioned resort at the time and every afternoon i'd sit on the porch and read it and every afternoon there was a colossal thunderstorm with wind and everything, so it really just made the experience for me.

 

have seen some of the silent version but it never holds my interest.

i don't care much for the 1959 version either.

 

but it was a fun summer read.

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  SPOILERAMA - IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN "THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE", READ NO FURTHER   (although if you haven't seen it, why would you be reading this thread anyway?)

 

 

Thanks for the highly readable write-up, speed baby. (Your clear writing skills make a nice change from some of the posts we get around here.)

 

Something that, as far as I know, no one here has talked about much, is the psychological sickness of the killer, the obsession he had with what he regarded as "imperfection".

It's pointedly mentioned in the film more than once, that the previous victims all had some kind of "defect". I could be wrong, but I believe they were: a scarred face, an "intellectual disability" (what they call in the film, "simple" ), a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair.  And then, there's Helen, who cannot speak.

 

It's interesting that all the "flawed" victims were women. Shirley there were one or two men around who possessed some kind of "defect" or disability. Did the killer limit his obsession to rid the world of imperfection to women?  Is the onus on women to be "perfect" while it's ok for men to have defects?

 

And then there's poor Rhonda Fleming, who seemed to be perfect but was murdered anyway. I guess her imperfection was that she didn't love George Brent.

 

I don't know how it goes in the book, but the film conveys the idea that Brent's character had always  been told that he was "weak", that his father despised him (but democratically, since it's given to understand that he was equally contemptuous of his other son) because he wasn't "manly" in the way his father was (I guess hunting and such are proof of manhood...)

So poor old deranged inferior-feeling George gets the idea that if he rids the world of imperfection, eg weakness, (but only in females), this will make him strong and noble, and worthy of taking his father's place. 

Sounds pretty nutty, but then, Georgie is nutty, as the speech he gives to Dorothy as he's preparing to strangle her proves.

By the way, did anyone else think it was pretty darn easy for Dorothy to break free of his manic grip and run up the stairs away from him? and how come he kind of let her, didn't run after her? He could have done so easily. I guess he figured he had plenty of time.

 

Anyway, to get back to my original observation here, it's interesting to ponder that particular obsession the man had with what he saw as imperfection, and how he somehow turned murdering people (just women, though) who were "imperfect" into some kind of noble deed. In his mind, I mean of course. 

Hey, come to think of it, if that was his thinking process, I'm surprised he didn't try to off Ethel.

 

 

edit: It struck me upon rereading/editing this post that it sounds kind of smart-azzy, as though I didn't like the film and am finding fault with it. Not so, I'm sorry if it came across that way. In fact I really enjoyed the movie. 

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Miss Wonderly,

 

Thank you for your kind comments. :)

 

I agree that the psychological aspect that motivates the killer is very interesting. I interpreted the killer's obsession with "weakness" like this: Ever since the dawn of time, it's almost as if it's the woman's job to be perfect and beautiful. For hundreds of years, women have been told that they need to wear this makeup (even if it contains arsenic!), this hair style, wear a corset to have the ideal shape (even if your organs fall out! Yay!), wear these clothes, act, talk, dress, sit, etc. to be seen as beautiful and a real lady. The woman's job was mostly to be a trophy and something to entertain her husband. Perhaps the killer can't handle women with disabilities because they don't live up to society's ideal of a perfect woman.

 

I've always found the psychological thrillers more interesting than the slasher films. In many ways, someone's twisted mind can be scarier than someone simply getting their throat slit. In 'Spiral Staircase,' I do agree it's interesting he didn't try to kill Ethel. Perhaps it's because she isn't beautiful. Perhaps in his twisted mind, beautiful women need to be perfect and having a condition like muteness, paralysis, or whatever is his motive. Re: Rhonda Fleming, I agree that he was just "bent" because she didn't love him. He probably figured that he's killed all these other people, what's one more?

 

I agree it was too easy for Dorothy Mc Guire to outrun the killer. Maybe deep down, he didn't really want to kill her?

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me in blue- LHF

 

It's weird that the basement didn't have any lights. I realize that the house was old, but is it normal for the cellar to not have any lights at all? Not even a bare incandescent light with a pull cord?

 

No, I think it makes sense. Remember: this thing is set some time in the nineteen-tens, and the house obviously predates electricity. So, no: I buy it.

 

That spiral staircase was cool though.

 

Yeeeeah...But you know what?- it's really more of a circular staircase in the film. Sue me: but it is. I know they couldn't call the movie that because of a popular suspense novel THE CIRCULAR STAIRCASE by Mary Roberts Rinehardt (who re-worked it- to better effect, as THE BAT) from about 20 years before... But i've read they called the film THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE to suggest the Rinehardt novel. Maybe a true spiral staircase would've been tough to film on as well (the source novel is called SOME MUST WATCH, which I guess was considered too obtuse or maybe even perverse for a mainstream picture.)

 

With some of the noir in the 1940s, this is where the production code may have negatively affected the outcome of films. While we don't know why the killer's foot was exposed in the basement, if it wasn't Siodmark's idea and it was the studio's, then that's unfortunate. I also think it's unfortunate that some board of white, middle-aged affluent men sat around deciding what content the audiences could handle. I bet if given the chance, audiences at that time (especially post-WWII) could have handled more than the studios gave them credit for. Perhaps the white, middle-aged affluent men couldn't handle it. Lol.

 

No...well, not like i'm an expert, but IMO- the ironically named DORE SCHARY (who was the producer of the movie and was- I think- if not the head of RKO at the time, then he was "the head of production" or soon would be) made the call, for whatever reason; Siodmak seems the sort who'd want to REALLY scare you at the end of the film., but...oh God...I'll go ahead and say it, Dore wanted a SCHARY movie, not a SCARY MOVIE.

 

I'm sorry, I'll show myself out in a second...

 

Schary came from MGM and did a lot of "classy" films, very prestige, i think- oddly enough- he got the idea for THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE from JOAN CRAWFORD, who was apparently a big fan of the novel when it came out in the 1930's and pestered MGM brass for years for them to get the rights and let her star. Mayer never would. I have gone into great detail about the novel, i think in the I JUST WATCHED thread, suffice it to say I LIKE IT VERY MUCH and HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT (it can be ordered cheap used off amazon.)-

 

PS- Did you get my PM?

 

Re: the unlit basement. I suppose it's true that it may not have had lights because of the time frame in which the film was set. I didn't notice whether the house has kerosene or incandescent lighting.

 

I like "spiral staircase," it sounds scarier. Though it also sounds like it could be the name of a Nancy Drew story. "Spiral" staircase to me almost implies to me you'll go around and around but never get off.

 

I saw Dore Schary's name front and center at the beginning of the film. I knew that he was more interested in realistic, (I.e "darker") films. It was a nice contrast from some of the goody goody fare Louis B Mayer was fond of (I like some of the goody goody films. Lol).

 

Yes. I did get your PM. I'm glad this film is on You Tube as it seems harder to obtain a copy for a reasonable price.

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Perceptive analysis, speedy. Yes, you're right, the whole "woman must be perfect" idea has been deeply a part of society's concept of the female. And not just Western culture, almost all cultures throughout history.

I suppose, if this were to go its logical conclusion, that would mean that Georgie's character would have started on "plain" women at some point - after all, women are supposed to be beautiful.

 

I love what you said about psychological thrillers being far more interesting than the slasher kind. So much more to think about with the former kind of movie.

 

Did some part of George want Dorothy to escape? Maybe. Unlike the other women he'd killed (except of course for poor Rhonda Fleming), he knew Helen, knew her fairly well as the gentle, intelligent, dedicated young woman who helped with the family household. He'd talked to her many times. Maybe you're right, maybe he had mixed feelings about killing her. Either that or he'd suddenly become quite inept at the art of murder.

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Miss Wonderly,

 

Thank you for your kind comments. :)

 

I agree that the psychological aspect that motivates the killer is very interesting. I interpreted the killer's obsession with "weakness" like this: Ever since the dawn of time, it's almost as if it's the woman's job to be perfect and beautiful. For hundreds of years, women have been told that they need to wear this makeup (even if it contains arsenic!), this hair style, wear a corset to have the ideal shape (even if your organs fall out! Yay!), wear these clothes, act, talk, dress, sit, etc. to be seen as beautiful and a real lady. The woman's job was mostly to be a trophy and something to entertain her husband. Perhaps the killer can't handle women with disabilities because they don't live up to society's ideal of a perfect woman.

 

And it's worth noting, all credit for this goes to Ethel Lina White, the female author of the source novel. again- it's been a looooong time since i read it, but i recall being quite impressed, and she's the one who lays out the whole dark, twisted path in re: the killer's issues with women that the movie follows pretty faithfully.

 

I agree it was too easy for Dorothy Mc Guire to outrun the killer. Maybe deep down, he didn't really want to kill her?

 

And an intriguing flip side to this is the book's scenario: a young girl with a club-foot who cannot run, and- although capable- can't scream either because she's in an isolated mansion and screaming (or making any kind of sound) will only let the killer know where she is, so really- it's twice as terrifying. I know I keep yakking about it, but really: it's a great read (as i recall it.)

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Miss Wonderly,

 

Thank you for your kind comments. :)

 

I agree that the psychological aspect that motivates the killer is very interesting. I interpreted the killer's obsession with "weakness" like this: Ever since the dawn of time, it's almost as if it's the woman's job to be perfect and beautiful. For hundreds of years, women have been told that they need to wear this makeup (even if it contains arsenic!), this hair style, wear a corset to have the ideal shape (even if your organs fall out! Yay!), wear these clothes, act, talk, dress, sit, etc. to be seen as beautiful and a real lady. The woman's job was mostly to be a trophy and something to entertain her husband. Perhaps the killer can't handle women with disabilities because they don't live up to society's ideal of a perfect woman.

 

And it's worth noting, all credit for this goes to Ethel Lina White, the female author of the source novel. again- it's been a looooong time since i read it, but i recall being quite impressed, and she's the one who lays out the whole dark, twisted path in re: the killer's issues with women that the movie follows pretty faithfully.

 

I agree it was too easy for Dorothy Mc Guire to outrun the killer. Maybe deep down, he didn't really want to kill her?

 

And an intriguing flip side to this is the book's scenario: a young girl with a club-foot who cannot run, and- although capable- can't scream either because she's in an isolated mansion and screaming (or making any kind of sound) will only let the killer know where she is, so really- it's twice as terrifying. I know I keep yakking about it, but really: it's a great read (as i recall it.)

 

The book sounds very intriguing.  I wonder if it's popular enough to be in the library.  It would have been interesting if McGuire had also had a club-foot in addition to being mute.  I would have been also been interested to hear more of the backstory in regard to Brent's character.  He talks about their father's obsession with weakness, but it doesn't really seem to delve much into his attitude toward females.  Unless it's because women are generally physically weaker then men (and at that time, were probably also seen as weaker in every other realm too: intelligence, emotional, mental, etc.) so perhaps a disabled woman is the weakest thing you could possibly be. 

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Perceptive analysis, speedy. Yes, you're right, the whole "woman must be perfect" idea has been deeply a part of society's concept of the female. And not just Western culture, almost all cultures throughout history.

I suppose, if this were to go its logical conclusion, that would mean that Georgie's character would have started on "plain" women at some point - after all, women are supposed to be beautiful.

 

I love what you said about psychological thrillers being far more interesting than the slasher kind. So much more to think about with the former kind of movie.

 

Did some part of George want Dorothy to escape? Maybe. Unlike the other women he'd killed (except of course for poor Rhonda Fleming), he knew Helen, knew her fairly well as the gentle, intelligent, dedicated young woman who helped with the family household. He'd talked to her many times. Maybe you're right, maybe he had mixed feelings about killing her. Either that or he'd suddenly become quite inept at the art of murder.

 

I think he wanted her to escape too. She would have been an easy target, though perhaps he did share some affection for his stepmother Ethel and Dorothy seemed to be the only person her stepmother liked.  I believe George makes some comment about how after Ethel passes, he can finally leave the house.  Dorothy told George that she was leaving and he didn't seem to try and talk her out of it.  I think once she saw his shoe peeking out in the shadow in the cellar and he saw that she put two and two together, that he decided he'd have to "off" her, because she knew too much.  Ethel knew it as well, but since she was an old invalid woman, nobody took her seriously, except for Dorothy.

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you know it's funny, feel free to consult online and correct me if this is a mistake, but there is a plothole of a sort at the end of THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE. it occurs in the last 15 minutes.

 

the nurse gets irate and announces she wants to leave, the younger brother comes in rainsoaked and looking bewildered; Brent tells him to take the nurse into town and he agrees; he leaves "to go hitch up the wagon" and Brent immediately tells Helen to go get Blanche, which leads her to the cellar where she finds the body, then Steven comes in saying he was outside with the nurse and saw the door open then Helen locks him in the cellar and the killer reveals himself and we are lead to the ending.

 

that means the nurse waits out the rest of the movie out in front of the house in the open wagon in the pouring rain AND she doesn't see the constable when he pulls up minutes later with the Dr's message about being late, at least The Constable doesn't mention it, and she doesn't come in to see what's taking so long or come inside to get out of the rain...or respond to Helen's beating on the window and cries?

 

?

 

I mean, it's not a huge thing, but it's something that could've been fixed easily enough, ie:

 

STEPHEN

(enters room, not seeing body)

"Helen, it's you. You're not going to believe this, Nurse

Whatshername rode off without me. Then I saw the door was open

and, Helen, what's wrong?"

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