The serial murderer in the spooky The Spiral Staircase (1946) is the worst kind of man there could be—one who targets women who are especially vulnerable, women with “afflictions.”  Not always a sympathetic character, old, ailing Mrs. Warren (Ethel Barrymore) is nevertheless right to urge her hired helper Helen (Dorothy McGuire), who is mute, to leave the vicinity.  The handsome Dr. Parry (Kent Smith), beginning to love Helen, agrees.  However, death (at the hand of the killer) has been in the town; now death is in the house!

Robert Siodmak‘s film is cleverly shot to look now fey, now horror-noirish.  It is very consistent with its melancholia, and its cast seems like old friends (ours).  Credit must go to Mel Dinelli, too, for script-adapting what is probably a fine entertainment novel by Ethel Lina White.