Consumer note: contains hammy acting even by 1945 standards. But a decent little thriller.
Omaha's own Dorothy McGuire stars as Helen, servant girl to rich, crazy, old Mrs. Warren (Ethel Barrymore). Mrs. Warren is bedridden, given to uttering semi-deranged warnings to Helen, and hurling churlish insults at everyone else. She's the head of a very dysfunctional family occupying a very spooky old mansion.
To add to the drama, there's a serial killer about. He's concentrating on (as we would say in this more enlightened time) differently-abled women: one with a limp, one "simple-minded", and … oh, did I mention that Helen can't speak, due to a psychological trauma incurred years ago?
Others occupying the mansion are two stepbrothers, one a professor, the other a ne'er-do-well just returned from abroad. The ne'er-do-well has the hots for Blanche, the professor's assistant (and who wouldn't, as she's played by Rhonda Fleming). There's a caretaker (Rhys Williams) with a wife (Elsa Lanchester) who's a little too fond of the basement brandy. A local doctor is smitten with Helen, but not enough to hang around when she finds herself in danger.
Movie quiz: since her muteness is psychological, do you think Helen might regain the ability to speak at a crucial moment?
- Of course.
- You'd have to be an idiot to say no.
- But in an ironic twist, she goes blind at the same time!
- Just kidding. There's no ironic twist.