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4.7 out of 5 stars
The Uninvited (Criterion Collection)
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167 of 169 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 1999
Based upon Dorothy Macardle's 1942 novel "Uneasy Freehold" THE UNINVITED is a wonderful and unique film which keeps the viewer mesmorized throughout. On the last day of their vacation in May, 1937, Rick and Pam Fitzgerald (brother and sister!) find an empty house on the seaside which they purchase for a ridiculously low price. Naturally, the place has "disturbances" in the form of two spectres,one of which just happens to be the daughter of the previous owner, Commander Beech (Donald Crisp).The other ghost is the spirit of Carmel Casada an artist's model. The commander's grand-daughter, Stella Merideth makes friends with the Fitzgeralds and she is ecstatic about visiting them in the childhood home she loves dearly. Gail Russell is luminous as the moonstruck Stella; this was her second film and her lack of acting experience is actually an advantage-her eerie lustre and shy, naive demeanor suit her role perfectly. There is a great sequence involving a seance, complete with Russell going into a trance (as a Spanish Gypsy) and the mysterious scent of mimosa which permeates the room. The very tall Dr.Scott is played by Alan Napier of BATMAN fame. The unsavory Miss Holloway is played to the hilt by Cornelia Otis Skinner (hers is a key role in the mystery) That's Angela Lansbury's mother Moyna MacGill in the tobacconists shop asking for a copy of "Amateur Gardening". The Cornish sets are done quite well and Windward House is a gothic beauty which I've always wanted to own myself! Ruth Hussey had to sleep with the lights on while making this movie! The voice of Mary Merideth was provided by Betty Farrington and Victor Young's "Stella by Starlight" is the lovely theme. Absolutely brimming with charm, this movie has ingenious atmospheric touches: the scent of parfum mimosa, a rose which wilts in the cold, dank studio, candles that burn dim and the classic scene where the French doors abruptly burst open. THE UNINVITED is chilling old-fashioned ghost story which takes itself seriously; there's no trick ending in this ingenious film. Highly Recommended.
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130 of 134 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2013
Finally, one of the best, and most awaited ghost/haunted house stories is given the million dollar treatment by Criterion. This 1944 film had me sneaking upstairs (against explicit instructions by my parents to "go directly to bed") to watch the late show with a blanket nearby for the scary parts. Honestly its not really scary, no mater what my 12 year old self still thinks, but it's one of the creepiest and well produced supernatural movies from Hollywood.

Ray Milland (Rick) is the perfectly suave leading man who falls in love with the beautiful Gail Russell, (Stella) a young 20 year old daughter of the mystery spirit who maybe haunting "Windward House", that sits perched upon a tall cliff on the haunted Cornish coast in England. [Oh, yeah, very Gothic!] Milland and his sister (Ruth Hussey) buy the house while on vacation at a heavily discounted price from the stern Commander Beech (Donald Crisp). His granddaughter, Stella, becomes upset with the sale until she is invited to visit the house, by Rick and his sister. From this point on it's "Katie bar the door!" as the house comes alive with mysterious scents, moans, cold spots, and murderous attempts on the life of young Stella.

The movie was produced by Paramount, based on the novel by Dorothy Macardle. It was directed by Lewis Allen and is in glorious black and white. For an on-the-set, studio produced film, it seems very realistic. (Check out the village scenes and the 1937 headlines of Soviet Airmen flying over the pole.) The suspense is well handled and for one of the first times, Hollywood treats hauntings as actually happening instead of laying it on some human pranks at the end of the movie. The ghost is handled respectfully, and in an almost English cinema type trait, you don't see the spirit until the last 30 minutes of the film. The movie has humor, thrills, and romance, and even hints at a "love that may not speak its own name".

I love this film. Take a chance. Invite your female friends over for the evening, pop some popcorn, turn out the lights, power down your cell phones, and have a few blankets next to the sofa, just in case.
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121 of 127 people found the following review helpful
Neatly playing light-hearted daytime fun against unsettling nighttime hauntings, THE UNINVITED is very much a traditional ghost story. When Ray Milland and sister Ruth Hussey buy a house on the Cornwall coast the purchase seems ideal--particularly as Milland is attracted to the seller's granddaughter, beautiful Gail Russell. But once settled in, Milland and Hussey soon find they are not quite alone in their new home.
The film is particularly notable for an "every day ordinary" style: there are no manipulative camera angles or unexpected editing tricks; there is no foreshadowing soundtrack; there are precious few special effects--and by refusing to use such time-honored elements, the story's ghostly elements seem all the more disturbing by comparison. The strong cast, which also includes Donald Crisp, Alan Napier, Cornelia Otis Skinner, is first rate and plays expertly, and Lewis Allen directs with restraint but never allows the pace to drag. THE UNINVITED is not a horror movie by any stretch of the imagination, and viewers who expect to rocked, jolted, shocked, and shuddered will probably be disappointed. But as a traditional ghost story with a mysterious and truly creepy plot it has more than a few chills, THE UNINVITED more than holds it own.
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75 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2013
"The Uninvited" is a stylish film that owes much of its look to "Rebecca," as well as the Val Lewton films that were contemporaneous with this 1944 release from Paramount. "The Uninvited" is a genuinely scary haunted house tale that takes its ghosts seriously...very seriously, indeed. For me, this film, "The Innocents" and "The Haunting" (1963) make up THE trilogy of well-made movies about ghosts, and I'm ecstatic about the fact that "The Uninvited" has received the much-deserved Criterion treatment. Hot Dog!!
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 1999
An usual and fascinating item, a ghost story which takes itself seriously. A "classy" film with considerable charm, "The Uninvited" is a ghost story with Freudian overtones which lingers in the mind long after one has seen it. During their fortnight vacation from their London flat, brother and sister Rick and Pamela Fitzgerald (excellently portrayed by Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey) buy an old Georgian house on the Cornish coast which is haunted by the spirits of two women. One of these ghosts is found to be Mary Merideth and the other a model who posed for Mary's artist husband Llewellyn, a Spanish gypsy girl named Carmel Casada. Gail Russell,in her best-known performance, luminously plays the ethereal Stella, and her strong performance is no small part of the effectiveness of the picture;her limpid eyes seem to conceal the mysteries of life and death. Stella believes it is the spirit of her mother who haunts Windward house (it was her Grandfather who sold the house to the Fitzgeralds for TWO THOUSAND POUNDS!) The strange happiness which steals over her in the house along with the mimosa scent awakes her intuitive recognition that "somebody loves me with all of her heart". Stella's faith is rewarded at the seance which Pamela arranges to be held at Windward; when the spirits are asked why they stay at the house, the reply is "I Guard". Carmel is there to prevent Mary from driving Stella into throwing herself off the cliff, something she tries to do twice in the film. There are many key scenes which are chilling, the most famous being when the French doors fly open at breakneck speed; the audience is totally unprepared for this start. Based on Dorothy Macardle's "Uneasy Freehold" this film is considered Hollywood's first attempt at filming a serious ghost story and it's still among the top 5 classics of the genre. Cornelia Otis Skinner is magnificently sinister as Miss Holloway and Donald Crisp is fine as Stella's over-protective Grandfather. That's Alan Napier (he played Alfred on "Batman" in the sixties) as Dr. Scott and Dorothy Stickney has a memorable cameo as Miss Bird (Stickney died at the age of 101 in 1998) Gail Russell was a tragic figure in real life (see was referred to as "Hollywood's Haunted Heroine". An insecure introvert, she developed a drinking problem and died at the age of 36 in 1961.The astonishingly beautiful Russell (she looks rather demure in this early role) was perfectly cast as Stella Merideth since her vulnerable personality and eerie lustre suited the role she was playing. Lizzie Flynn, the Irish housekeeper is amusingly played by Barbara Everest (notice in the scene where everyone holds candles at the foot of the stairs Everest looks straight into the camera for an instant.)The film's theme is the beautifully haunting "Stella by Starlight" It would be 20 years before Hollywood produced another dilly of a ghost story ("The Haunting") Highly Recommended!
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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2011
I was quite surprised how good the quality was for a film this old (nearly 70 years old!!!). I was worried there might be chinese subtitles but all my fears would put to ease as I played
the DVD...I was pleasantly surprised to say the least. As HeathMcEwan said, This 1944 classic film is one of my very favorites. Long hailed as Hollywood's first attempt at a "serious" ghost story, it will no doubt please most all fans of the genre. Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey play Roderick and Pamela Fitzgerald who are siblings. They are nearing the end of their seaside holiday in Cornwall, England when they happen to come across a lovely old deserted Georgian house while chasing their terrier, Bobby. The Fitzgeralds meet the dour owner (played by Donald Crisp) and they purchase the small mansion for a surprisingly affordable amount of money. Naturally, the house is haunted. The acting - particularly that of Gail Russell as the luminous, moonstruck Stella Meredith - is effective and charming. The black-and-white cinematography by Charles Lang is exquisite as is Victor Young's hauntingly lovely theme, "Stella by Starlight". The film has a moody, frisson quality which few films of the "ghost genre" can match. In one of her very few film appearances, Cornelia Otis Skinner is memorably sinister as Miss Holloway who was a friend of Stella's mother, the deceased Mary Meredith. A thoroughly enjoyable film with some real jolts and a great atmosphere, ghost fans should be enthralled by this one.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2013
The UNINVITED is scary without being over-the top. Atmospheric, and with a cast of excellent actors and actresses, I would recommend it. It is probably the best ghost movie ever made.
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2011
The Uninvited (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]This review is for 'The Unintived' on Blu-Ray / DVD from CRITERION.

I purchased the Blu-Ray copy of this film. This is a very good print with a crisp picture and good sound there are some nice extras including a booklet (Blu-Ray Version) Below is the review I posted for a previous purchase from MEDIA ASIA GROUP.

MEDIA ASIA GROUP COPY:
I had looked for years for this excellent ghost story on DVD with no success. I had found a copy offered by MEDIA ASIA GROUP and this is what I got: The film was a fair print, but not nearly as good as I've seen on TMC and the digital transfer was TERRIBLE!! This is a black and white film with a mono sound track running less than 100 min. with NO-EXTRAS. So it should fit easily on a standard single-layer DVD. The amount of compression applied made the film look fuzzy and pixelated and it stuttered and stopped and finally made a 'Fatal Error' that made my player quit in the first 3 mins. of play. MEDIA ASIA GROUP made the transfer and despite all of the 'Quality Control/Assurance' stickers it is one of the worst I have purchased and I have bought DVDs from the $1.00 bin.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2001
While many may find this classic film more charming than terrifying, it's an undeniably ingenious and atmospheric ghost story with a unique twist. In May of 1937, music critic Roderick Fitzgerald and his sister Pamela are nearing the end of their fort-night seaside holiday in Cornwall, England. While walking along a path, chasing their terrier "Bobby", the siblings are overwhelmed by the beauty of a gorgeous but deserted Georgian house. The Fitzgeralds meet the owner, a dour man named Commander Beech, (excellently portrayed by Scotsman Donald Crisp) and purchase the small mansion for an extremely low price......Because I am such an unbelievably avid fan of this beautiful and ingenious film, I don't want to ruin it for others by giving away details of the plot; you MUST see it for yourselves!! Just know that there's no trick ending in this classy and unforgettable movie. The acting is top-drawer and the characters are really neatly drawn. The screenplay was adapted from the popular 1942 book UNEASY FREEHOLD, (which was later re-titled THE UNINVITED in America) by Dodie Smith and Frank Partos. The author of the excellent novel was an Irish woman named Dorothy Macardle who also wrote two other novels with supernatural themes: THE UNFORESEEN & DARK ENCHANTMENT. Macardle also wrote the highly acclaimed THE IRISH REPUBLIC, which was published just before her death in 1958. THE UNINVITED - which contains sub-plots which were wisely ommitted for the film - can still be found in used bookstores. As Pamela Fitzgerald, Ruth Hussey speaks with an accent more Providence than London, but her playing of Pam is charming and warm. Hussey read the book while traveling on the train in preparation for making the film and she later stated that she literally had chills running down her spine whilst reading! - she slept with her berth light on all night! Milland is clearly having a good time playing Rick - he's flippantly boyish, a sophisticated rascal who later tells the malevolent spirit of Mary Merideth to "get lost". Mrs. Holloway is portrayed by the once highly esteemed stage actress Cornelia Otis Skinner and she's a creepy dame with an evil glare and a sinister presence (critics of the day compared widely the character with Mrs. Danvers in REBECCA). The special effects are moody, subtle and genuinely eerie - the scene in which the French doors burst open totally unexpectedly is a Hollywood classic; the seance scene is beautifully realized (and creepy in it's realism). Symbolism is rampant throughout the movie: the cold uninviting studio where a rose is seen to wilt in seconds - the uniquely sweet scent of mimosa (which symbolizes a mother's love and protection) - candles which go dim when there's oppression - the nightlight in the nursery............ Russell is very effective when she goes into a trance as the Spanish gypsy girl (Carmel Casada) and the photography during these scenes is spectacular as it invokes a mood of danger, tension and apprehension from the participants. Gail Russell plays the moonstruck Stella Merideth and she's about the most ethereal beauty you're likely to see in in a haunted house! In this, her second film, she seems born for the role since her natural awkwardness and shyness made her perfect for the part. The beautiful black and white cinematography by Charles Lang is spooky and magnificent (it was nominated for an AA, but lost to LAURA). Victor Young's haunting melody STELLA BY STARLIGHT was written for the picture and it's an inspired theme, perfectly suitable to the moody atmosphere ....... This gem is very likely the BEST ghost story ever put on film!!
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2004
This movie is so amazing. I first saw it as child and some parts scared the living crap out of me, but it was still good because it wasn't loaded with blood, gore, and sex. The quiet scenes are scariest and this is one of the first films to start the whole "Jump Scare" that is still used and reused in horror/thriller movies today.

I agree with everyone else here that this movie NEEDS to be released on DVD! It's also a cruel joke that it isn't even out on VHS anymore. Everyone write to Paramount Pictures and annoy the heck out them to release this underrated classic on DVD!!!
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