The Uninvited is a 1944 horror film starring Ray Milland. We watched it in the fabulous St Mary’s Lighthouse at Whitley Bay as part of the Whitley Bay Film Festival. The lighthouse, across a dramatic tidal causeway, is a great venue for atmospheric viewing!
The Uninvited was Universal studios first big gamble on a ‘haunted house’ movie and Ray Milland, a former British army officer is the star. He was a popular actor of the time, in the Cary Grant genre.
Whitley Bay Film Festival – The Uninvited
While vacationing on the English coast, composer Rick Fitzgerald (Ray Milland) and his sister Pamela (Ruth Hussey) find an an abandoned 18th-century house and decide to buy it. The owner, Commander Beech (Donald Crisp), associates it with the tragic death of his daughter and is willing to part with it despite his granddaughter Stella’s (Gail Russell) objection. The Fitzgeralds move in and soon find themselves, with the help of Stella, battling it out with two very prickly ghosts.
The special effects were considered very scary at the time and in fact were removed from some versions to prevent upsetting the audience! Of course to us the effects seem very tame now. At the heart of the film is a cracking good mystery and the script (by Dodie Smith of 101 Dalmations fame) keeps things moving on apace. The screen play is based on a novel – Uneasy Freehold; by Dorothy Macardle
Whitley Bay Film festival – old films new audiences
The main characters seem only mildly concerned by the presence of a wailing weeping spirit in the house. Paranormal phenomenon is dealt with in a peculiarly light hearted way which contrasts sharply with our experience of horror films today. A torrid affair with an artist’s model under the nose of the dead house owner’s wife is summed up by his daughter’s comment ‘between you me and the grand piano, I think my father was rather a bad hat!’ Love it. The malevolent spirit is finally dispatched by the launching of a candelabra at it! Fantastic!
Whitley Bay Film Festival – charming cinema venues
This is a film with a definite stylish charm. Despite its age, it still gets a well deserved 94% rating on Rotten tomatoes. I loved the witty lightness of it, the lovely clothes and the innocence of the story telling. Gail Russell as the ingenue is a delight, and quite beautiful. I was sad to learn that she died at only 37 from mental health and alcohol problems. Hollywood never was quite what it seemed.
When shows are on at the lighthouse you have the option of ordering fish and chips. It is the seaside after all! They are delivered during the film, and passed around in the dark with the salt vinegar and ketchup in a furtive manner. This is quite amusing but they are also very good!
Whitley Bay Film Festival – a patron’s legacy
The Whitley Bay Film Festival is always surprising and I just love this special event. Some sad news came in during this year’s event. One of the festivals patrons media historian Chris Phipps died unexpectedly. The Uninvited had been his film choice. The festival team were understandably shocked by this, but I’m so glad the film went ahead in his honour anyway – thanks Chris!
I loved the showing of Edward Scissorhands too at Seaton Delaval Hall gardens.
Check out remaining showings at the festival website www.whitleybayfilmfestival.co.uk