The Spiral Staircase

Myrna Dell in The Spiral Staircase (dir. Robert Siodmak, 1945).

Starts off very stylishly with its mise en scene of small-town Americana circa 1916, our mute heroine Dorothy McGuire sitting transfixed in a movie theater watching a D.W. Griffith silent feature while in the apartment upstairs a shadowy serial killer claims a victim. It remains solid entertainment--and really scary, in its midcentury melodramatic way--from then on out, though once it gets locked into a single interior location (the obligatory spooky manor house) it feels a little stagy, and it's terribly obvious who the killer is from the moment the character is introduced.

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