Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Shadows on the Stairs|
Actors: Frieda Inescort, Paul Cavanagh, Heather Angel, Bruce Lester, Miles Mander
Director: D. Ross Lederman
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Gotham (dba Alpha) Release Date: 04/27/2004
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Member Movie Reviews
Matt B. from GETZVILLE, NY
Reviewed on 5/23/2011...
The juvenile leads, both male and female, lack acting chops, though I must confess Heather Angel is easy on the eye. The older cast members comprise a stronger cast, with their obvious talent, poise, and experience, probably all learned in the theater.
Frieda Inescort mixes equal parts duplicity and hysteria. Turhan Bey combines an odd blend of determination and strength with sinister cunning. Paul Cavanagh and Miles Mander are both polished character actors that round out the cast.
Based on a Frank Vosper play "Murder on the Second Floor" so this whodunnit has only about three sets. However, it has just about everything else: adultery, a knife fight, a body under the bed. unexplained disappearances, a locked room murder, anti-imperialist movements funded with smuggled gold, hysterical females and a romance loving spinster, bobbies with comic accents and stolid police inspectors. Mustn't forget people falling down stairs. And only an hour long too.
Not Exactly Hitchcock
James L. | 05/12/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This B-film from Warner Brothers concerns the mysterious and deadly goings-on at a boarding house owned by Frieda Inescort and Miles Mander, who live there along with their daughter Heather Angel and several boarders. Among the boarders is a struggling writer, an eccentric spinster, and two men involved in shady business. In the course of the film's one hour running time, bodies begin to pile up as the writer tries to figure out the identity of a killer. The actors all express the appropriate amount of shock and confusion as the mystery deepens, and the pace of the film maintains the suspense. The direction could be sharper, and I found the story a little confusing at times, but I did like the twist ending. Very few people have heard of Shadows On The Stairs, and although I think the comparisons to Hitchcock are a real stretch, fans of B-films will want to check this one out."
All things considered, an easy way to spend an hour
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 11/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This old-dark-house movie...well, old-dark-boarding-house movie...is a lot of fun. If you're willing to accept that it's dated and the acting is clunky, you'll be rewarded with something either suspicious, threatening or violent going on almost every minute, with genteel accents by the main characters plus a twist at the end that should have you smiling.
In London in 1937 the Armitage rooming house is run by Mrs. Stella Armitage (Frieda Inescort) with help from the maid (Phyllis Barry) and from her daughter, Sylvia (Heather Angel). Her husband, Tom Armitage (Miles Mander), is an older, distracted man who concentrates on solving chess puzzles. Among the roomers is a mysterious young man from India, Ram Singh (Turhan Bey); a smooth older man, Joe Reynolds (Paul Cavanaugh), who seems to know Mrs. Armitage rather well; a handsome writer, Hugh Bromilow (Bruce Lister), who is keeping something secret and who has eyes for Sylvia; and a talkative spinster, Miss Phoebe Snell (Mary Field), who loves describing her romantic dreams at length to anyone who'll listen. Right at the start we learn that there is some sort of skullduggery that involves Ram Singh, Joe Reynolds and a heavy chest Singh spirits into his room from the foggy London docks. The last character is the rooming house itself, a three story dwelling filled with heavy furniture and dark corners, balustrades and carved oaken doors, dim lamps and pots of aspidistra.
The movie is only one hour and five minutes long. In those 65 minutes we have murder, suicide, presumed adultery, corpses, disappearing lodgers, locked rooms, smuggled gold, a creeping specter with a shawl over its head, comic bobbies and bemused inspectors, threats and counter threats...and young love. Frieda Inescort does a fine job. She has a young face, a matron's body and an overwrought acting style that can move as fast as a snake from hysteria to barking out orders like a drill sergeant. Paul Cavanaugh is a practiced hand at playing doubtful smoothies. He and his pencil mustache are always amusing to watch. Turhan Bey, in his first movie, was only 19. He has a handsome, baby face, a mellow voice and a surprising amount of gravitas. He's also a dab hand at throwing a knife. Bey became something of an exotic star in the Forties, but saw his career fade away in the Fifties. He returned to Turkey, became a prosperous commercial photographer, then began playing television character parts in Hollywood during the Nineties.
Shadows on the Stairs, especially with that unexpected ending, is more of a romantic/comedy mystery than an old dark house scarum. For two first-rate old dark house movies you should see the 1927 version of The Cat and the Canary and 1932's The Old Dark House. The latter was directed by James Whale and has fine performances by, among others, Boris Karloff, Melvin Douglas and, especially, Ernest Thesiger. He is one of the Femm family, and a stranger bunch of siblings speaking some of the ripest dialogue there never has been since. Says Rebecca, the Femm sister, "They were all godless here. They used to bring their women here -- brazen, lolling creatures in silks and satins. They filled the house with laughter and sin, laughter and sin. And if I ever went down among them, my own father and brothers, they would tell me to go away and pray, and I prayed -- and left them with their lustful red and white women." Now that's a family in an old dark house to avoid.
The DVD transfer of Shadows on the Stairs is in reasonably good shape for an old, public domain title. It has the quality of a slightly below average VHS tape. There are no extras."
GREAT B MYSTERY!!!!!
larryj1 | AZ, USA | 05/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Extremely entertaining WB B movie with a familiar cast. The print from Alpha is one of the best I've seen from them. No problems except they cut off the WB logo."