“Even with her eyes shut, she seems to be watching you like an evil spirit.”
On a dark and stormy night, a mute housemaid (Dorothy McGuire) caring for an infirm woman (Ethel Barrymore) in a country mansion fears for her life after several local girls with disabilities are murdered. Meanwhile, a kind doctor (Kent Smith) believes he can cure McGuire of her trauma-induced muteness, while Barrymore’s son (Gordon Oliver) romances the household’s beautiful secretary (Rhonda Fleming), and Oliver’s stepbrother (George Brent) manages the rest of the staff — including a tippling maid (Elsa Lanchester), a stern nurse (Sara Allgood), and a manservant (Rhys Williams).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Dorothy McGuire Films
- Elsa Lanchester Films
- Ethel Barrymore Films
- George Brent Films
- Historical Drama
- Old Dark House
- Robert Siodmak Films
- Serial Killers
- Servants, Maids and Housekeepers
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that while it’s “not hard to figure out the mystery” of this “classic gothic thriller”, director “Robert Siodmak’s atmospheric direction keeps viewers anxious”, and there are “some particularly eerie close-ups of the murderer’s eye before he attacks his victims”. Indeed, the primary star of the show is DP Nicholas Musuraca (best known for his work with Val Lewton), whose stunning cinematography turns multiple frames into gorgeous chiaroscuro paintings. The most memorable aspect of the screenplay (based on Ethel Lina White‘s novel Some Must Watch) is that the protagonist can’t (won’t) speak, even to save her own life; to that end, this would make an interesting double-bill with Wait Until Dark (1967), also about an imperiled woman whose disability heightens her vulnerability to a predator.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Nicholas Musuraca’s highly atmospheric cinematography
No, though it’s recommended for one-time viewing.