- Sandwiched between two gigantic musicals (West Side Story in 1961 and The Sound of Music in 1965— also made Two for the Seesaw in this stretch as well in 1962) Robert Wise made one of more ambitious A-budget horror films this side of The Shining.
- The Haunting opens with the history of the Hill house deaths via voiceover from Richard Johnson.
- This is from Shirley Jackson’s famous novel. Wise is eager to capture some of Jackson’s fabulous writing in Julie Harris’ inner monologue even if it undercuts the performance a little. “Why am I here?” and “I’m coming apart a little at a time”. She is mousy and twitchy.
- Russ Tamblyn (back with Wise after West Side Story) plays the “cocksure” young skeptic.
- This was not shot in 65mm like the two musicals that flank this film in Wise’s career, but still- he uses the full wider 2.35 : 1 aspect ratio to full effect (this is the director that would later deliver perhaps THE split diopter film in The Andromeda Strain from 1971). At the 39-minute Johnson is foreground left, Tamblyn is center-center, and Claire Bloom is in the background right on the stairs.
- Wise enthusiastically directs and edits the horror effects- the camera flies to the door, he bounces all around the room at difference distances to get the effect of a ghost or being in the room with the characters. Even the continued dedication to wide compositions gives the effect of these four characters being observed- and perhaps stalked.
- In the gardens at the 59-minute mark with the statue in the front, Bloom foreground left—the two men are in the middle and Harris far background. This is Kurosawa or Wyler.
- At the 70-minute mark there is a fabulous low angle shot with Tamblyn in the foreground right kneeling. Johnson is standing in the background left but he is no more than a few feet behind Tamblyn in reality. This is Welles. Wise was the editor of Citizen Kane of course.
- A sensational score would have helped this film immensely- it does not have one- which is strange because Wise is Mr. Musical.
- A Must-See quality film
It’s overall feel and look reminds me of The Innocents. Also I really liked Julie Harris.
@M*A*S*H- agreed- I recently caught up that one as well and have a page for it coming in a few days
@Drake- hehe got me excited. I hope…. Well I can only hope!!
I’m also really excited for Broken Embraces as I know you’ll revisit it. I’m also hoping that one day you revisit Ash Is Purest White as well. Believe me you’ll have a changed opinion.
Do you like Julie Harris’ performance in the movie? Is she one of the best performances of the year?
@M*A*S*H- Harris is solid- but it is not one of the film’s strengths or one of the standouts of 1963
So do you think another actress maybe Deborah Kerr could make it one of the highlights of the movie?
@M*A*S*H- Good distinction. Kerr in The Innocents. I saw these two films on back to back nights in 2021.