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The Uninvited: Criterion Collection (1944) - Blu-ray Review

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The Uninvited (1944) - Blu-ray Review

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4 stars

Falling in love with an abandoned seaside house can be bad for your health.  Just ask music critic/composer Roderick Fitzgerald (Ray Milland) and his sister Pamela (Ruth Hussey).  Directed by Lewis Allen, The Uninvited, unleashed on Blu-ray courtesy of the Criterion Collection, is the best haunted house picture you’ve (probably) never seen.  It was also the first.

That’s right, The Uninvited is the first serious stab at presenting a haunted house on film.  This gloriously shot black-and-white feature might be a bit creaky and beholden to the standards of the 1940’s but the unsuspecting shocks still rattle the nerves; it is here, after all, where ghosts in houses ceased being a comic device and started becoming deadly serious.

The Uninvited, co-starring Donald Crisp and Alan Napier, is centered by a mystery involving Stella Meredith (Gail Russell) and her deep attachment to that seaside house, which is not fully realized until her Grandfather sells it to the Fitzgerald family.  She becomes obsessed.  She can’t let her memories of the home go.  Something has scarred her.

Stella is convinced her mother still walks its halls.  Roderick develops feelings for Stella and, in an attempt to protect her sanity, stages a séance to convey the "message" that her mother wants her to stay away.  It backfires when an unexpected ghost takes over and overrides the intended message.

Her mother wants her to stay.  But why?  Enter the sanitarium and a mysterious past that won’t stay hidden.  Both unsettling and beautiful, The Uninvited works to create atmosphere that can’t simply be dismissed.  Written by Frank Partos and Dodie Smith, this is also a story that cannot be easily dismissed.  It is both intriguing and spooky.  In fact, there are several scenes that are so perfect for a haunted house film that they still work for scares.

Martin Scorsese puts The Uninvited on his list of the Scariest Movies of All Time; Guillermo Del Toro lists it as a major influence.  Over the years, this one keeps slipping through the cracks in the memory of general audiences.  With this release, there’s no reason to be unaware of its power.  Striking from the beginning, the immaculate photography of Charles Lang is, in fact, true art.  It’s textured, full of deep shadows, white mists, and is sudden and sweeping moments very poignant…like much of The Uninvited.

They call them the haunted shores, these stretches of Devonshire and Cornwall and Ireland which rear up against the westward ocean. Mists gather here... and sea fog... and eerie stories...and The Uninvited beckons them all to return – so richly – to life.

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The Uninvited - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: Not rated.
Runtime:
99 mins
Director
: Lewis Allen
Writer: Dodie Smith, Frank Partos
Cast: Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey, Donald Crisp
Genre: Horror | Classic
Tagline:
From the Most Popular Mystery Romance since "Rebecca"!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Well, now we know... the one ugly room in the house!"
Distributor:
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
February 26, 1944
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 22, 2013

Synopsis: A composer and his sister discover that the reason they are able to purchase a beautiful gothic seacoast mansion very cheaply is the house's unsavory past.

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The Uninvited (1944) - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

4 stars



Blu-ray Experience
4 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - October 22, 2013
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
1.0 LPCM Mono (English)
Discs: Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50); Clear Keepcase

The new 2K digital film restoration - with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition – is visually stunning.  No defect whatsoever.  The film is presented in its theatrical 1.37:1 aspect ratio and is offered in 1080p using the AVC codec. This is a very film-like presentation with a satisfying light grain structure and wonderful sharpness through most of the presentation. The grayscale offers notably crisp whites and black levels that are generally good. Shadows in those darkly lit rooms are effectively ominous. There are no age-related artifacts which betray the film’s almost seventy years of existence. Absolutely amazing stuff on display here.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of supplemental material with this restoration.  There’s a new visual essay by filmmaker Michael Almereyda that hits on the film’s high points and also analyzes Ray Milland’s lengthy film career with clips from Criterion’s recently issued Ministry of Fear among many other stills and poster art and Gail Russell’s sadly brief film career.  Also included are two radio broadcasts of the film and a 25-page essay from Tom Weaver.

  • Giving Up the Ghost (27 min)
  • Two Radio Broadcasts (60 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer

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