The Spiral Staircase

The Spiral Staircase

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The Spiral Staircase

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The Spiral Staircase is a 1946 American psychological thriller film directed by Robert Siodmak, based on Ethel Lina White's novel Some Must Watch. The novel was adapted for a radio production starring Helen Hayes before reaching the screen.


Set in early 20th century New England, the screenplay by Mel Dinelli is about a serial killer who is murdering disabled young women in the community. His next victim apparently is Helen, a mute girl who works as a live-in companion for wealthy, bedridden Mrs. Warren, who urges her to leave the house, as does Dr. Parry, who knows the reason for Helen's loss of speech and hopes to help her get her voice back. Rounding out the household are Mrs. Warren's son and stepson, her verbally-abused nurse, a secretary, a handyman and his wife, a housekeeper with a taste for brandy.


The cast, directed by Robert Siodmak, included Dorothy McGuire, Kent Smith, George Brent, Rhonda Fleming, Elsa Lanchester, Gordon Oliver, Sara Allgood and Ethel Barrymore. Barrymore was nominated for an Academy Award, Best Actress in a Supporting Role.


The Spiral Staircase was adapted as a half-hour radio play on the November 25, 1949 broadcast of Screen Director's Playhouse, starring Dorothy McGuire in her original role.

It was remade in 1975 as a feature film with Jacqueline Bisset and again in 2000 as a television movie with Nicollette Sheridan.

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