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

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Anderson, Stanwyck, and Wynn
THE HOUSE THAT WOULD NOT DIE (1970 telefilm). Director:John Llewellyn Moxey.

Ruth Bennett (Barbara Stanwyck) and her niece Sara (Katherine or Kitty Winn) move into a country house built in the 1700's and willed to Ruth by her cousin. Ruth bonds with her neighbor, Pat (Richard Egan), while Sara makes good friends with Pat's student, Stan (Michael Anderson, Jr.). During a seance, restless spirits in the house make their presence known, and eventually begin to take over the minds of the inhabitants, especially Sara. Is she going mental, or is something supernatural going on? The viewer will be far ahead of the characters in this mediocre flick which was presented as an ABC "Movie of the Week" back in the day. At least there's an interesting cast. Stanwyck, who always gives a solid performance no matter what drivel she's in, is above the material, as expected. Winn later appeared with Al Pacino in The Panic in Needle Park and The Exorcist and its sequel; she was a very good actress and does the best she can with this material. Richard Egan was in everything from The View from Pompey's Head to Wicked Woman, and Michael Anderson Jr. was with Hayley Mills and Maurice Chevalier in In Search of the Castaways when he was a boy. The medium is played by Doreen Lang, the hysterical woman who slaps Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock's The Birds; she's only mildly hysterical in this. Mabel Albertson shows up briefly as another neighbor and a friend of Lang's. This was produced by Aaron Spelling from a screenplay by Henry Farrell [Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte].

Verdict: Stanwyck maintains her dignity in a forgettable and obvious ghost story. **.


Neil A Russell said...

Bill, you may have solved another one of those important life mysteries for me.

Following the séance scene, was there a sudden appearance of a plaster forearm in a fishbowl or something like that?

That bugged the crap out of me when I was a kid and I've never been able to find the film it came from since.
I did remember that the plaster arm was featured in the promos for the movies as a quick flash-by.

As always, I appreciate your diligence in chasing down obscure but entertaining movies and tv!


William said...

Hey, Neil, it seems to me that there was something like you described during the seance scene but I don't remember exactly what it was, either. However, the full movie is on youtube so you can check it out on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Maybe you'll like the movie better than I did. Thanks for your comments! Bill