The Uninvited Book vs Movie (1944) Review

The Uninvited by Dorothy Macardle (1941)

The Uninvited directed by Lewis Allen (1944)

Happy Halloween and costume question as well as fav ahllowenn book and movie

The Uninvited is about brother and sister Rodrick and Pamela who buy a house in the country on a cliff over the ocean. However, even before buying it, they are told there are those that suspect the house to be haunted. Pam and Rick think that is nonsense and buy the home from a man referred to as the Commander. The Commanders granddaughter, Stella, visits the home and is influenced by the presence there. We find out her mother had died there, and Stella feels it is her mother’s presence she feels. We later learn that there are actually two ghosts, Mary-the mother of Stella, but also Carmel-a girl whom Mary’s husband had been having an affair with who died shortly after Mary died.

Book Review

I did not like this book. It had a similar problem I had with The Beguiled (though I like The Beguiled more than this), but both were written by playwrights and both lack the suspense that should have been there. The plot here is good, and there are scenes that should have been chilling and suspenseful, but it instead felt slow and uninteresting. It also felt like it just kept going on and on and by the time things really started moving, I was just ready to be done. It also didn’t have any climactic moments, even the end just felt tepid.

I also thought it interesting Macardle chose to write from the perspective of Roddy, the brother, rather than Pamela, the sister.

This book has some really good reviews though! So, I don’t know what my problem was, but I just wasn’t getting what I wanted from it.

Locating Movie

This movie is often compared to Rebecca, which I covered a couple weeks ago. In fact, all three Halloween themed book vs movies this month all have haunted houses which have their own name (Manderley, Hill House, and here Cliff End though changed to Windward for the movie), are in black and white, were written by women, they all have creepy older women to varying degrees.

These similarities are almost all coincidence though. The reason I chose The Uninvited is because I remembered watching this movie when I was in my early teens and I had loved it. Through the years I have had a hard time finding this movie though because I didn’t remember what actors were in it, I remembered it had a somewhat generic name but couldn’t remember it specifically. I knew it was a haunted house, it was black and white, and there was a scent the characters would often smell. Based on that limited info, I was able to find what movie it was and turned out it was even based on a book!

But then I ran into a problem after finishing the book, because I couldn’t find out where to watch the movie! It isn’t streaming anywhere and isn’t on YouTube! Luckily, I recently found our dusty DVD player in a desk drawer and bought the DVD of this so I could watch it.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this and found it entertaining, creepy, but also fun at times.

Rodrick

In the book, Rodrick is a play critic but wants to become a playwright, whereas in the movie he is a concert critic but wants to be a composer.

In the book he suddenly gets the writing bug and is able to write a complete play in record time. The play is about a woman who wants power and destroys those around her to get it.

In the movie, he writes a song for Stella, but as he is playing it suddenly gets sad without his meaning to.

In the book, his play clues them into the truth of Mary, whereas in the movie his piano playing didn’t help them figure anything out.

Stella

In book and movie Stella is controlled by her grandfather, the Commander, the father of Mary. She is 20 though, so Pam and Rick try to get her to do what she wants even if it means disobeying her grandfather. He doesn’t want her going to Cliff End, but she does anyway and while there she will at times feel a warm presence and knows it is her mother, yet at other times feels a bad spirit which causes her to run out of the house toward the cliffs. At one point in book and movie she almost falls over but Rick saves her.

In the book, after collapsing at the house, she is kept at her grandfathers and starts acting strange. Her moods switch in drastic ways, one minute being her sweet self, then later going into a rage. The doctor, Dr. Scott keeps her heavily medicated to keep her calm and to help her get sleep.

This isn’t in the movie. Stella does pass out at the house and when she is taken back to the Commander, he has her taken to Miss Holloway’s mental retreat. Miss Holloway being a woman who was close to Mary.

Miss Holloway and Mary

In the book, the Commander talks of having Miss Holloway look after Stella, but it doesn’t happen. We only see Miss Holloway in one chapter when Pam and Rick go to see her to learn about Mary and Carmel.

In book and movie, Mary is remembered as being a saintly woman. Her husband was having an affair with Carmel (he was a painter and she modeled for him) yet Mary allowed her to stay in their home because she was just that charitable. She also felt that it should be her husband to send Carmel away. The Commander also acts as though his daughter was perfect and Stella feels she will never be able to be as good as her mother. In the book it also seems like the grandfather is trying to make Stella into Mary by having Mary’s things all around her.

In the movie, they gave Miss Holloway more of a role by having Stella sent to her holistic mental institution, Pam and Rick speak to her, and then we see her interacting with Stella. She named her institution after Mary and seems to be mildly obsessed with her-like how Mrs. Danvers was obsessed with Rebecca. In the movie, she encourages Stella to leave and go to Windward, because she wants Stella to run to the cliff again but this time die. Once Rick and Pam find out she had Stella leave, Miss Holloway kind of loses it and is talking a bit crazy. This isn’t in the book at all. I kind of think the movie makers were inspired by the success of Rebecca and the crazy Danvers character and tried to recreate that to some extent.

Stella’s real mother

In book and movie, they realize that Carmel was actually Stella’s mother and her spirit is the one that brings warmth and love. She is also the spirit that cries, because Stella’s was taken from her, and then raised to believe someone else was her mother. When Stella finds out the truth, Carmel’s spirit is put to rest.

Mary’s spirit makes another entrance, and Rick stands up to her saying they aren’t scared of her anymore and they know the truth. This causes Mary’s ghost to leave the house forever.

Mr. Meredith

In both, we know the father, Mr. Meredith, was a painter and he painted Mary, but Carmel was also his muse. In the book we see a painting he did of Carmel where she looks lovely. But then we hear about when she returned to them (the three went to Paris, and then they left Carmel there and took her baby back with them claiming it was theirs. Carmel can’t bear to be away from her child though and returns to England. The town gossip though said Carmel returned because she was in love with the husband). Anyway, when she returned she was emotionally and physically drained and looked terrible. The husband tells Mary he knows what to do to get rid of Carmel, and he secretly paints her in her current state. When he reveals the painting of her looking so sad and terrible, she is upset and runs out of the house. This part with the painting isn’t in the movie, but shows what a messed up person both Mary and the husband were.

The romantic relationships

In the end of the movie, we see that Rick and Stella are to be married, and we see that Dr. Scott and Pam are in love. In the book, Rick notices that Dr. Scott is into Pam, but he hopes he will get over it because Pam isn’t into him. He reflects though how he hopes Pam will get married because she is such a great person. Pam in the book though seems perfectly content to be single which I thought was interesting and cool for the time.

Book vs Movie

When it comes to deciding which wins, I will have to say the movie wins this time. I just didn’t find the book suspenseful or thrilling at all. The movie had some comedic moments which kind of ruined the building tension, but nonetheless it was still more tense and exciting than the book. They also have some graphics depicting the mist/ghostly figure of Mary which I thought was creepy and impressive for the time period. The changes they made to Holloway I didn’t mind either and just all in all I preferred the way they condensed the story. There are a number of characters they don’t have at all in the movie and several scenes that are cut from the book but I think it was for the best.