Monday, April 13, 2020

Elegant 1940s Thrillers: The Spiral Staircase and Laura

Dorothy McGuire in The Spiral Staircase (1946).

Two of the most enjoyable and elegantly appointed thrillers of the Hollywood big-studio era came out two years apart – Laura in 1944 and The Spiral Staircase in 1946. Actually they belong to different genres. Laura is a murder mystery; The Spiral Staircase is a psycho-killer movie, one of the few classic examples from that period that Alfred Hitchcock didn’t direct. (Hitch turned out Shadow of a Doubt in 1943 with Joseph Cotten as Charlie Oakley, the “Merry Widow murderer” who provokes the fall from innocence of his small-town niece, played by Teresa Wright, who shares his name; and Strangers on a Train in 1951, wherein Robert Walker tries to crisscross murders with a handsome tennis champ played by Farley Granger.)