A studio error turned out to be a blessing in disguise in March when the Loews Theatre in Jersey City, NJ requested a 35mm print of Lewis Allen’s The Uninvited (1944) and instead was erroneously shipped a print of Charles Guard’s 2009 film of the same name (the film bears no relation other than titular to it’s 65 year-old predecessor, but it is rather a remake of the 2003 Asian film A Tale of Two Sisters).It turned out that there were no known 35mm prints of the film, though this scribe swears that the Film Forum in New York City showed it years ago.The mix-up turned out to be fortuitous as Universal created a new print of the film and it was screened Saturday night.Credit must be given to Paul Ginsburg, Vice President of NBC Universal Distribution, for ordering the new print struck (interestingly, the film is a Paramount Picture).
The film was due to begin at 6:00 pm but was delayed for 25 minutes due to the unanticipated and overwhelming number of people in attendance, the main floor filled almost to 70% capacity.This was a revelation to behold, and I overheard more than a few whispered comments on the ticket line remarking how nice it was to see the large turnout of people for this film which was on a double bill with Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940).The lobby sported a table with rare promotional items, such a magazines and lobby cards, used in the original exhibitions of these films.
Once The Uninvited began, the audience applauded at the quality of the new print which was virtually flawless.Having seen films like this on old 16mm reruns on television over 25 years ago, it is a reminder that films even of this age can look as though they were just made.
The Uninvited stars a debonair Reginald Alfred Truscott-Jones, better known to audiences as the less tongue-tie-inducing Ray Milland, in a ghost story about a young woman who is drawn to her deceased mother’s Winward mansion estate.Though it cannot hold a candle (sorry, couldn’t resist!) to Jack Clayton’s The Innocents (1961) or Robert Wise’s The Haunting (1963) for psychological thrills, The Uninvited, while a bit too talky and a lot less cinematic than one would have hoped, still holds up as a nice little ghost story that isn’t afraid to play it straight.
At a time when summer box office now means over-the-top, special-effects laden adventures, it’s a relief to see that movie-goers of all ages are willing to come see films like this on the big screen.