Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. United Kingdom/USA, 1963. Argyle Enterprises. Screenplay by Nelson Gidding, based on the novel The Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Cinematography by Davis Boulton. Produced by Robert Wise. Music by Humphrey Searle. Production Design by Elliot Scott. Costume Design by Maude Churchill. Film Editing by Ernest Walter. Golden Globe Awards 1963.
Shy, neurotic Julie Harris lives under the thumb of her snotty sister and pushy brother-in-law, escaping them successfully enough to make it to a country estate where she has been invited by a psychiatrist (Richard Johnson) interested in the paranormal. Her psychic abilities are paired up with those of a pushy, glamorous ESP-gifted Claire Bloom in the hopes that they will have an encounter with the ghosts that reportedly have been haunting this century-old mansion since a woman committed suicide in it years before. Johnson locks the doors and turns the lights down low and it is not long before things start going bump in the night; in fact, not much more happens than things going bump in the night in this film, but you have to remember that we’re looking at something that would have been a lot more frightening in the years before a half century of horror movies and thrillers that have followed this delightful chiller’s 1963 release. That said, it actually has aged extremely well thanks to superb characterizations brought to life by a strong cast, not to mention wonderful set design, moody photography and a strong, memorable ending. Remade, abysmally, in 1999.