Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF UNCLE HARRY (1945). Director: Robert Siodmak.

Harry Quincey (George Sanders) lives with his two sisters, Hester, a widow (Moyna MacGill) and a supposedly sickly younger woman named Lettie (Geraldine Fitzgerald), who doesn't react well when she learns that Harry is going to marry a pretty co-worker named Deborah (Ella Raines), leading to assorted complications. Although the incest theme is extremely overt, the production code necessitated an unbelievably annoying ending to the film. However, the movie is absorbing and generally well-acted. Sanders subdues his naturally rakish personality to play a shyer kind of fellow and Raines and MacGill are excellent, as is the always reliable Sara Allgood as the opinionated maid. Fitzgerald doesn't always quite seem to have a handle on her often repellent character, and some of the revelatory sequences are handled in a perfunctory manner. And that ending ...! Still, the picture is quite entertaining.

Verdict: Rumors that this was remade as Toys in the Attic are untrue. **1/2.


panavia999 said...

With a cast and director like that it has to be worth at least one viewing!

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Colin said...

I like this movie, but then I like just about all Siodmak's stuff. The ending is reminiscent of Lang's Woman in the Window and is usually regarded as an irritating cop out. Having said that, I remember reading somewhere an interpretation that suggested the ending actually heightens the noir credentials by showing just how passive, helpless and repressed Harry is - he can only take a proactive role in his dreams. I don't know if you buy into any of that but it does, for me anyway, make the ending work better.

Resist Fascism said...

I cannot believe I missed this one; I adore George Sanders and remember how I hated learning of his suicide.
I'll have to find this. Thx..

Best Movies said...

William, thanks for review, i'll watch "THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF UNCLE HARRY" tonight :)

William said...

Thank you so much for your comments everyone.

Colin, I think your way of looking at the film certainly makes the ending more palatable, thanks!