The Spiral Staircase (1946 film)
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Spiral Staircase is a 1945 American psychological thriller film, based on Ethel Lina White's novel Some Must Watch, in which the heroine was crippled rather than mute. The novel was adapted for a radio production starring Helen Hayes before reaching the screen.
Set in early 20th century New England, the screenplay by Mel Dinelli is about a serial killer who is murdering disabled young women in the community. His next victim apparently is Helen, a mute girl who works as a live-in companion for wealthy, bedridden Mrs. Warren, who urges her to leave the house, as does Dr. Parry, who knows the reason for Helen's loss of speech and hopes to help her get her voice back. Rounding out the household are Mrs. Warren's sons, her verbally-abused nurse, a secretary, a handyman and his wife, and the housekeeper with a taste for brandy.
The cast, directed by Robert Siodmak, included Dorothy McGuire, Kent Smith, George Brent, Rhonda Fleming, Elsa Lanchester, Gordon Oliver and Ethel Barrymore. Barrymore was nominated for an Academy Award, Best Actress in a Supporting Role.