The Spiral Staircase - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Spiral Staircase Reviews

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½ August 21, 2016
A good old fashioned suspense picture, with vaguely simian Dorothy McGuire as a mute woman working in a mansion for a bedridden, scenery chewing Ethel Barrymore. There's a serial killer out there, and he's killing women who have physical deformities: what will happen to our heroine? This would be fun to watch on a stormy fall night.
June 27, 2016
Solid little Hitchcockian thriller about a mute servant girl working in a British home that may be hiding a killer. It's a well crafted thriller from director Robert Siodmak, but I think my main complaint is that I found the formal British stiff upper lip demeanor of the household in question off putting. I'm not going to argue that Hitchcock's British thrillers were particularly realistic, but I would say that character actions an motivations seemed more grounded in reality and not as tied to British decorum. Still, this film has some wonderful atmosphere and some terrific black and white photography. Well worth watching.
October 25, 2015
A great film without any exaggeration All actors and actress in this great film acted very well, the story itself is very exciting, music, direction, you can say that from first moment in the film you feel that you are in front of great work. Special thanks to Dorothy McGuire as her role was very natural and expressed very well feelings of being mute and helpless she made tears come to my eyes at the end of the film.
½ May 27, 2015
A melodramatic but effective thriller that establishes great atmosphere with its use of mood lighting and music.
½ February 11, 2015
Because Alfred Hitchcock was such a master of suspense, and he always seemed to grasp his powers incrementally over the years, I have found delving into his classic older pictures as rewarding, but less enjoyable--given the height of his powers during his latter directorial days. However, compared to '39 Steps,' 'Strangers on a Train,' 'Shadow of a Doubt,' and 'Suspicion,' which are admirable and groundbreaking, 'The Spiral Staircase,' is a self-contained masterpiece with an unfaltering sense suspense, romance, psychological ramifications, and treachery. With very few missteps, this quintessential rainy night at the mansion thriller, director Robert Siodmak, admirably does with Hitchcock's keen sense of timing, framing, and editing what most modern films fail to do: keep the mystery and macabre on a short leash with an economy that today's special effects and GCI seldom muster.
January 20, 2015
Estupendo film de suspense que facilmente Hitchcock lo pudo dirigir, sencilla y de unas tomas interesantes.
April 22, 2014
Gothic old dark house thriller...quiet but deadly--An Exercise in Atmosphere and Tension!!
½ April 7, 2014
A high water mark for the "woman in peril" genre (with all of its flaws) that is basically just a fulfilled opportunity to try to scare viewers. A serial killer is on the loose, hunting women with disabilities of some kind, and he's apparently made it to the sprawling dark mansion in which Helen (Dorothy McGuire), who has been mute since childhood, is working as a maid for invalid Ethel Barrymore. Sumptuous in its décor and art direction and expert in its camerawork, Robert Siodmak (The Killers, Phantom Lady) uses his noir skills to great spooky effect. Anyone could be the killer (of course) but the pay-off is sort of ho-hum.
December 29, 2013
a below average whodunnit. Not a bad film but very forgettable
December 28, 2013
The setting of a Victorian house gets real tense and chilling in a dangerously haunting film about a mute servant girl threatened by a killed with a penchant for killing people burdened by afflictions. Nice builds up in suspense and great cinematography with plenty of refined shadow play and innovative camera angles makes The Spiral Staircase a real treat for fans of the genre. Some may even say that it's one of the best Hitchcock films Hitchcock never directed - but it would be like giving lesser known Robert Siodmak credit for the great noir atmosphere that he was able to build for this ace early shocker.
August 8, 2013
I couldn't agree more with a review I read on this film, simply a film that Hitchcock should have made. A story of a mute girl flee into a house during a storm & eventually tormented by the noises coming from the top of the spiral staircase.

This film started strong but lacked the suspense & momentum needed to make the film impacting. It had solid performances but it lost so much speed in the middle.

Things where anchored in the film that never re-explored, it's a shame since the film had a lot potential. However there are some beautifully shot atmospheric scenes that really work.
½ March 12, 2013
An almost perfect little gothic suspense with all of the right elements - dark mansion, stormy night and a creepy cellar. So, so, so good.
½ December 18, 2012
Campy and pedantic dialogue aside, this is a cinematic gem. Engaging and eerie with incredible textbook film noir cinematography.
½ December 10, 2012
I actually enjoyed watching this film, it was actually better than what I thought, I own it on DVD, it starred Dorothy McGuire, George Brent, Ethel Barrymore and Rhonda Fleming, it was a great film
November 2, 2012
I saw the twist coming almost as soon as the film started and found this thriller quite dull and unimaginative.
½ October 11, 2012
Great suspense movie. The protagonist is really great.
September 17, 2012
An excellent thriller in the style of Val Lewton or Hitchcock, beautifully shot and perfectly scored. Ethel Barrymore is great as the cantankerous, bed-ridden matriarch, while Dorothy McGuire does a good job with a mute role. Elsa Lanchester steals the brandy and gets drunk, Kent Smith and James Bell ( both seen in Lewton movies of the same period) have memorable supporting roles as does Sarah Allgood who plays the downtrodden nurse. The only disappointment is George Brent who is a bit stiff; this important role could have been played by a better actor such as Brian Donlevy or Tom Conway.
September 7, 2012
Very well handed proto-slasher movie, featuring fantastic production design, intriguing characters that steer clear of the usual cliches of the genre and generous portions of suspense. Some of the tropes in the film are perhaps a little over-familiar, possibly due to subsequent overuse in the horror genre, but many of the elements on display are strikingly original - the mute protagonist and the eye close-ups are particularly strong examples.
½ June 27, 2012
Some doldrums through the second act - but the last 15 minutes is as exciting as any of the best "whodunits" from this era. Dorothy McGuire's mute is full of elongated looks and comically exaggerated expressions - but she still manages a memorable performance. Siodmak may not come from expressionism as some of his fellow à (C)migrà (C)s but The Spiral Staircase is another testament to his understanding of societies seedy underbelly.
June 11, 2012
I guessed everything but who the killer was, which was actually the most clever part.
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