The Haunting of Hill House is a book written by Shirley Jackson, first published in 1959. The book inspired the 1963 movie The Haunting, directed by Robert Wise.
This novel, classified as gothic fiction, is considered as one of the best literary ghost stories published during the 20th century.
Four seekers have arrived at an abandoned old mansion known as Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of psychic phenomena; Theodora, his lovely assistant; Luke, the future inheritor of the estate; and Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman with a dark past. As they begin to cope with horrifying occurrences beyond their control or understanding, they cannot possibly know what lies ahead. For Hill House is gathering its powers - and soon it will choose one of them to make its own...
Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has unnerved readers since its original publication in 1959. A tale of subtle, psychological terror, it has earned its place as one of the significant haunted house stories of the ages.
Eleanor Vance has always been a loner — shy, vulnerable, and bitterly resentful of the 11 years she lost while nursing her dying mother.
Eleanor has always sensed that one day something big would happen, and one day it does. She receives an unusual invitation from Dr. John Montague, a man fascinated by "supernatural manifestations". He organizes a ghost watch, inviting people who have been touched by otherworldly events. A paranormal incident from Eleanor's childhood qualifies her to be a part of Montague's bizarre study — along with headstrong Theodora, his assistant, and Luke, a well-to-do aristocrat. They meet at Hill House — a notorious estate in New England.
Hill House is a foreboding structure of towers, buttresses, Gothic spires, gargoyles, strange angles, and rooms within rooms
Although Eleanor's initial reaction is to flee, the house has a mesmerizing effect, and she begins to feel a strange kind of bliss that entices her to stay. Eleanor is a magnet for the supernatural — she hears deathly wails, feels terrible chills, and sees ghostly apparitions. Once again she feels isolated and alone — neither Theo nor Luke attract so much eerie company. But the physical horror of Hill House is always subtle; more disturbing is the emotional torment Eleanor endures.
Intense, literary, and harrowing, The Haunting of Hill House belongs in the same dark league as Henry James's classic ghost story, The Turn of the Screw.
~ Naomi Gesinger
I don't know anything about these editions. Can you help me identify them?
Unlike conventional books, audio books allow you to read all the great books available today while doing other things. So now you can enjoy a terrific suspense novel while driving to work. Or you can lie on your bed, just close your eyes, and listen to the voices...
No printed book, no matter how expensive, can tell you a story like an audio book. The professional narration makes every page spring to life, adding nuances you might have missed.
Last but not least, audio books are essential for blind or partially sighted people. Blind and partially sighted people have the same culture needs as everyone else. But many people with sight problems will not be able to understand information unless it is made available to them in a suitable format. It is important to remember that there is no single method which suits all blind and partially sighted people all of the time. Audio books is one of them.
Yes. The book was adapted for stage representations in theaters in 1964 by F. Andrew Leslie.
You can buy the booklet, rehearse and play... as long as you pay the fee. Here are all the details from Dramatists Play Service.
The Haunting of Hill House.
Cast: 3 men, 4 women: 7 total.
A chilling and mystifying study in mounting terror in which a small group of "psychically receptive" people are brought together in Hill House, a brooding, mid-Victorian mansion known as a place of evil and "contained ill will." Led by the learned Dr. Montague, who is conducting research in supernatural phenomena, the visitors have come to probe the secrets of the old house and to draw forth the mysterious powers that it is alleged to possess-powers which have brought madness and death to those who have lived therein in the past.
Book/Item: The Haunting of Hill House.
Fee: $60 (approx 43 Euros) per performance.
The story: Cut off from the outside world by its remote location and shunned by all who know its forbidding and sinister reputation, Hill House has remained empty and silent except for the daily visits of its grumbling caretaker, Mrs. Dudley. Its isolation is broken by the arrival of Dr. Montague, an investigator of supernatural phenomena who has been granted a short lease by the present owner. His mission is to delve into the morbid history of the house and to come to grips with the occult forces that have made it uninhabitable for many years. He is joined by three others, all unacquainted, but all having their particular reasons for accepting Dr. Montague's invitation to share his Hill House sojourn. Their visit begins with jovial informality, but their sensibilities are soon jolted by strange and eerie occurrences. As they struggle to disguise their mounting fears they are joined by Dr. Montague's wife and a friend, who have come to Hill House for purposes of their own. They too are absorbed by the supernatural, but their approach is via direct communication with the departed spirits-a type of psychic research which is regarded fearfully by Dr. Montague and which, as subsequent events bear out, brings on a crisis in which the evil forces of Hill House are goaded to a new and, for one of those present, fatal fury.
Cast of characters, in order of appearance:
Synopsis of scenes
The time is the present. The place is Hill House, a brooding, isolated and innately forbidding mansion located deep in the back country of an eastern State. The action is confined to a single set, which includes a windowless parlor and, at stage right, a small bedroom.
by William Shakespeare
Isn't it ironic to think that Shakespeare was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK, Europe, where you can also find the superb Ettington Park hotel — where the exteriors scenes of 'The Haunting' were shot?
If you stay at Ettington Park for a few days, a lot of the visitors of the hotel will be there precisely because of Shakespeare, and not for 'The Haunting'. Apparently, Shakespeare attracts more visitors. Weird, isn't?
Click here to display a Google Map
Please don't continue to read or explore this page if you haven't read the book yet and still plan to do so. This detailed section would spoil and ruin your surprise, revealing all the tiny little things you would enjoy to discover by yourself.
If you have already read the book, you know that numerous changes were made to get the script that led to the movie you know. I don't want to compare the quality of the book and the script, both are brilliant. The book of Shirley Jackson is a world-known masterpiece, no doubt about it. Nelson Gidding made a fantastic work to write the script from this extraordinary material, no doubt about it. Still, the book is much more complex than the movie: more characters, more experiences (including outdoor experiences), longer narration,... The timescale is different... The relationships are all different, like shifted... Not to mention Grace, Arthur and planchette, who all give the story a different twist. The script focused on four characters, and did stick to them (Grace is never a real member of the team, in the movie).
The rest of this page will focus on the content of the book, including — but not limited to — a comprehensive listing of all the differences between the book and the script. This will help you draw your own conclusions about the work of Nelson Gidding. But first and foremost, I wanted to highlight one of the main differences between the book and the movie: the colour! Indeed, the novel is a colourful world that I wanted to explore. Last but not least, the text was scrutinised by several automated analysis tools, and I wanted to share their conclusions with you.
The story goes that in 1989 Robert Wise accidentally bumped into a team working on the colourization of The Haunting, while visiting a studio. The director himself had not been informed of the project, and worse, not been informed that it had already started! Furious, Robert Wise sued the team and argued in court that the movie had purposely been shot in black and white, that it was an artistic decision, as stated and proven by the contract signed at the time. In other words, the movie had been shot in black and white because Robert Wise thought it was perfectly appropriate, and not because there was not enough money to shoot in colour (although the budget of the movie was tight). As a result, the project was stopped, and the colourized version was banned.
I strongly believe that the choice of black and white for the movie was, and still is, a perfect artistic choice. There is absolutely no doubt about it. Although I'm a bit curious about the colourized version of the movie, I also have to admit I'm glad it has never been released. I'm pretty sure that it would haved spoiled everything.
However, if you have read the book, you know that Shirley Jackson had chosen some colours for the bedrooms of her main characters...
... as well as colours for the clothes...
Reading a very interesting document, I recently realised that the "purple parlour" was mentioned several times by the characters in the movie — quite strange for a movie shot in black & white. So I wondered: what about the book? To my surprise, it lead me to realise that the "purple parlour" was an invention for the movie. In the book, Shirley Jackson mentions a "little parlour", without any colour indication. This piqued my interest, and I started to count the colours in the book. This lead to another surprise: the book is not very colourful, and although two of the main characters are female, the universe of the book is everything but girlie.
Here are the figures:
The blue is #1, mainly thanks to Eleanor's blue bedroom, and the recurring mention of the blue cup of stars.
The red is #2, because of Eleanor's clothes (the red sweater) and shoes. Obviously, the blood in Theo's bedroom explains why red is again mentioned quite often.
The white is also #2, mainly in the day-dream sequence when Eleanor invents what an ideal world would look like for her. It makes a dreadful comeback in the nightmarish garden sequence, when the trees and the grass turn white.
The green is #3 because of Theo's green bedroom and all the outdoor scenes with the green grass, green hill, etc.
There are many possible interpretations, of course. And they are, by nature, always subjective. Still, I can't help but notice that the women bedroom's colours are obviously cold whilst the men bedroom's colours are warmer.
More interestingly, the women's clothes are warm colours that are in complete opposition to the colour of their bedrooms.
Please find below some interpretations that I have gathered.
[+] Tranquil, intuitive, trustworthy
[-] Cold, Depressing
The colour of the sky and the ocean, blue is one of the most popular colours. It causes the opposite reaction as red. Peaceful, tranquil blue causes the body to produce calming chemicals, so it is often used in bedrooms. Blue can also be cold and depressing. Fashion consultants recommend wearing blue to job interviews because it symbolizes loyalty. People are more productive in blue rooms. Studies show weightlifters are able to handle heavier weights in blue gyms.
Extreme cold can result in frost bite where the skin turns white with blotches of blue, so we talk of being blue with cold. Just being blue or having the blues is feeling depressed. In America, the boys in blue are all in the navy wearing natty blue uniforms. When two full moons occur within 28 days we call that period a blue moon. Something which happens once in a blue moon therefore, happens very seldom. Describing people we say that a chatterbox talks up a blue streak and a brown noser is a derogatory term used for people who are sycophantic.
[+] Growth, abundance, vitality
[-] Bad luck
Currently the most popular decorating colour, green symbolizes nature. It is the easiest colour on the eye and can improve vision. It is a calming, refreshing colour. People waiting to appear on TV sit in "green rooms" to relax. Hospitals often use green because it relaxes patients. Brides in the Middle Ages wore green to symbolize fertility. Dark green is masculine, conservative, and implies wealth. However, seamstresses often refuse to use green thread on the eve of a fashion show for fear it will bring bad luck.
Emotions such as envy and jealousy are green too. Shakespeare wrote about the green monster of jealousy in his play Othello and today we still speak of the little green monster or of being green with envy, although why it should be a green monster instead of a blue or brown one is not clear. If you believe that the grass is greener on the other side, you want something that's just out of your reach, just like cattle which always want to eat in the field next to where they are left by the farmer.
[NOTE: I know this is NOT his bedroom but we don't see it in the movie. I used the dining room instead.]
[+] Friendly, compassionate, faithful
The most romantic colour, pink, is more tranquilizing. Sports teams sometimes paint the locker rooms used by opposing teams bright pink so their opponents will lose energy.
A young person is described as being in the first flush of youth which refers to the glowing skin which traditionally accompanies good health. Similarly, being in the pink also refers to glowing skin. Seeing the world through rose tinted spectacles means that you are looking at things in a false light which makes them seem more attractive than they actually are. 'La vie en rose' as we say in french.
[NOTE: I know this is NOT his bedroom but we don't see it in the movie. I used the dining room instead.]
[+] Enthusiastic, playful, optimistic
Cheerful sunny yellow is an attention getter. While it is considered an optimistic colour, people lose their tempers more often in yellow rooms, and babies will cry more. It is the most difficult colour for the eye to take in, so it can be overpowering if overused. Yellow enhances concentration, hence its use for legal pads. It also speeds metabolism.
Cowardly people are said to have a yellow streak. In the past, men who refused to fight in wars were given the white feather from a chicken, a bird which symbolized cowardice.
Excerpt from "The Power of Color", by Dr. Morton Walker.
The words that best describe Reds are practical, realistic, down-to-earth, sensible, pragmatic and dependable. They are traditionalists in their beliefs and values. Reds are the backbone of society. They believe that people should earn their way in life through hard work and service to others. They approach everything from a no-nonsense point of view. For Reds, what you see is what you get. They are loyal to their families, their causes and their superiors. They operate best within a traditional power structure where everyone knows their places. They are sensitive to the lines of authority and are conscientious about staying within those lines.
Even if Reds do not agree with the rules or procedures, they will not challenge them. They accept them for what they are and understand that without structure and guidelines there would be chaos. They are dogmatic in their approach. Reds need specific parameters to function by.
Reds are literal in their interpretation of things. Everything is either black or white. Gray areas and ambiguity are not comfortable for Reds. Intangibles have little value in their world. Reds think that spending time exploring possibilities and creating ideas is non-productive unless there is a process in place to follow through on those ideas. They are not abstract thinkers and, in fact, have very little patience with people who are. This is not to say that they are not idea people. They are. However, unless they have some assurance that the idea will work prior to moving forward, then it will be viewed as a waste of time. Reds see their role in the creativity process as the ones who give substance to ideas and turn them into reality.
Reds are controllers. They need to control both their environment and people. They believe that if they are in control then they can somehow buffer themselves from the unexpected. Reds do not like surprises. Their need to dominate others is strong. They tend to be autocratic and dictatorial in their interaction with others. They are highly effective at using intimidation and aggression in order to get what they want. Their need to dominate is so strong that they are often accused of being insensitive to the feelings and needs of others. Reds are strong, forceful personalities who are driven by the need for power and status.
Reds are fiercely competitive. They will not back down from a confrontational situation. They thrive in competitive environments. They view themselves as survivalists. For Reds, winning is everything. No matter what the cost, or what the conditions. They are not squeamish in their quest for winning. If winning means stepping on others to get what they want...so be it. They are not sentimental and they do not identify with the underdogs. From their perspective there can be only one winner, and that winner will be them. Reds will fight to the end. In reality, the more ferocious the competition, the more stimulating it is for Reds. They prefer taking the offensive, rather than defensive position.
Hard work is the hallmark of Reds. They are doers. They will not rest until the job is done. They believe in rolling up their sleeves and jumping right in. Reds are detail oriented. For them, no detail is too small to overlook. They pride themselves on their ability to manage people, facts and information. They prefer working in environments where there are systems; tasks are well defined, and where expectations and results are clearly explained. They do not like to waste their time in meetings where all there is, is planning or brainstorming. Reds are action people. They love seeing immediate results for their efforts. Their motto in life is, "Just Do It". Reds are the kind of people every employer dreams of. They are loyal, steadfast and dependable. They do not mind taking on tasks that are routine or redundant. Understanding job responsibilities and how their performance is going to be measured is a must for Reds.
Because of their hard work attitude, they expect the same of others. They have little tolerance for people who are non-productive. They will not tolerate emotional outbursts in the work environment. They expect people to leave their personal problems at home. They measure both themselves and others on results, not on effort. They believe that everything depends on them. They also believe that it is their responsibility to light the fire under others so things will happen.
Extroverted Reds believe in making the most of the moment. They are doers who like to keep themselves involved in life. They like to keep things lively and churning as much as possible. Even though they do not personally like change, they are known for changing direction mid-stream just to keep people on their toes. They are not the types to rest on their laurels. They make things happen. If extroverted Reds decide something needs to get done, get out of their way is you can not stand the pace. They are impatient types. They have difficulty relaxing. They do not cope well with things that do not go the way they think they should.
They are outgoing, up-front, extremely direct and vocal when it comes to expressing what they want and do not want. They do not pull any punches when it comes to telling others what they like and do not like. They are masters at getting to the heart of the matters. They are abrupt and will cut to the chase in order to find out what they need. When they ask questions they expect simple direct answers. They have no tolerance for lengthy complex explanations. If they ask the time, they do not want to know how the watch was built.
Introverted Reds are quiet, introspective, serious, matter-of-fact, reserved people who are reliable and steadfast. They are patient and painstakingly systematic in their approach to solving problems. Unlike their extroverted counterparts, introverted Reds will not exert themselves any more than they have to, and they do not enter into things impulsively. They do not see bulldozing ahead or butting heads with people as a good usage of either time or energy. They are methodical in their approach to both life and tasks. Life is what you see and nothing more. They live in the present.
No other type is more thorough, hard-working or patient with facts and details than introverted Reds. Their perseverance and quiet presence tends to act as a stabilizer for others. They will not do anything that doesn't make sense. They enjoy solitude and prefer working by themselves rather than working with people. For introverted Reds, people are a distraction. They need an environment where they just bury themselves in the tasks at hand. They produce results.
Yellows are self-confident personalities. The words that best describe Yellows are self-reliant, self-respected, self-made, self-motivated, high self-esteem, self-starter and self-fulfilled. Yellows believe in themselves, their capabilities and their intellectual abilities. They know that if they put their minds to it, they can accomplish anything. Their philosophy is that if they believe in it, they can achieve it. When you combine these strong "self" Yellow characteristics with their ambition, they truly are capable of transforming their dreams into real accomplishments. The future to Yellows is a world of endless possibilities and the opportunity to make a difference. They are true visionaries.
Yellows are challengers. They challenge authority. They challenge the traditional ways of thinking. They challenge why and how things work. They even constantly challenge themselves to be better and to think differently. They dare to do things differently and to make things better. Yellows are non-conformists and mavericks. Even though they may appear to conform within conventional society, they are truly square pegs trying to fit into a round world. Yellows live by their own internal code of values and principles. They are not strongly influenced by other people or by traditional limitations. Yellows make their own sets of rules and march to their own drummers.
Yellows need the freedom to utilize their intelligence, to pursue their quest for knowledge and wisdom and to develop competency by acquiring new skills and expanding their capabilities. For Yellows, being competent is everything. They will not settle for anything less. Yellows pride themselves on their expertise and intellect. They view life as something to be understood and mastered. They make perfect scientists because of their need to control predict and explain both concepts and realities. Research is their greatest passion. They are compulsive about improving things. For Yellows, knowing how something works is only half of the equation, knowing how to make it better is the other half. Inventors tend to be Yellows.
Goals drive and motivate Yellows. They enjoy the goal setting process because it allows them the opportunity to look at an entire situation, identify objectives, deal with obstacles and put strategies in place to accomplish the results. Yellows tend to know what they want and they have the drive necessary to get it. They also know how to use their leadership strengths to gain the cooperation of others. Yellows are ambitious people.
At their best, Yellows are innovative thinkers. They defy the traditional ways of doing things and seek out ways to make things better. They are resourceful people. They can grasp abstract theory easily and convert it into practical applications. They thrive on the complexities of problems and situations.
At their worst, Yellows are impractical, condescending, overly conceptual, uncompromising, verbose, and nit-picky. They become pre-occupied, mentally incapacitated, impatient with others, and irritated with themselves. They lose touch with reality and get lost in their heads. Yellows expend so much mental energy working to analyze and rationalize their way of thinking that they lose sight of objectives. When in this mental state, they tend to use intellectualizing as a means of appearing superior to others.
Extroverted Yellows are hearty, frank, highly energetic, dynamic, charismatic people. They love to engage others in intellectual banter. They are skilled at getting others to accept their way of thinking and to support their objectives. Extroverted Yellows are always looking for new challenges. They tend to be consummate entrepreneurs. If extroverted Yellows are told something cannot be done, they will not only take on the challenge to prove that it can be done, they will usually exceed expectations. They have a natural zest for life that attracts others to follow their leadership and jump on their bandwagon. Their methodology to get others involved can be likened to the "Huck Finn" technique. Make it look like so much fun that others cannot possibly resist the temptation to get in and roll their sleeves up to make things happens.
Extroverted Yellows are commandants. They believe it is their place in life to lead. They enjoy public speaking and sharing their thoughts and ideas with groups. They understand that in order to be a good leader you must lead by example. You must walk your talk. They know that mixed messages will undermine others' belief in them. They are outward-driven in their thinking. If they come up with an idea, they want to turn it into reality. Extroverted Yellows cannot be content with living with ideas. Their need to make things happen is too great. In the game of life, extroverted Yellows cannot remain on the sidelines. They not only need to be involved in the game, they need to be leading the team.
Introverted Yellows are deep thinkers. An ideal job for them would be a "think-tank specialist". They are continually creating ideas and concepts in their minds. They have rich imaginations, which provide them with endless possibilities to explore. Their thinking process is to consider, do, then re-consider. Introverted Yellows need the time to think about things, then think about them some more. They become irritated when pressed to make decisions before they have had the time to fully understand all of the variables. They will massage a problem until they can find just the right solution. Introverted Yellows carry on extensive internal conversations. They play out scenario after scenario in their minds. They thrive on the complexities of their thoughts. They would much rather have quietness to contemplate and speculate than have to put things into action.
Their faith in their intuition makes them extremely independent and individualistic. They tend to live by their own intellectual formulas and expect others follow accordingly. They have little patience with confusion, ineffectiveness, doing things halfway or efforts that are not producing results. Introverted Yellows have a difficult time communicating their ideas effectively to others. They tend to explain their ideas in such a complicated manner that most people cannot follow their thoughts. Introverted Yellows expect others to be able to follow along, and if they cannot, these Yellows see repetition as a waste of time and energy.
Introverted Yellows are cool thinkers, consequently others will seek them out to solve problems in pressure situations. They have the ability to create win-win outcomes even in the most adverse conditions. The gift introverted Yellows have to share with others is their resourcefulness and the belief that every problem has a solution.
To be able to study the text of the book, I needed an electronic version. I scanned a cheap pocket edition of the English original version & of the French translation. I ran an OCR (optical character recognition) tool on these images, to get a text version. Then I proof read everything, because OCR is a great technology but you can't skip the human proof reading operation to correct some misinterpretations. As a result, I have a clean pure-text version of the novel.
And, voilà, now I can run different automated tools to study the original novel, in English or in French.
Please find below the initial results of my investigations and explorations.
First, I wanted to create some tag clouds / word clouds to highlight the most important topics of the book. I quickly realised that I needed to exclude the word "said", that would otherwise stand out in every graphic, because the novel is full of dialogues between the characters.
You can see that the book is mainly centred on Eleanor and Theodora, then on Hill House, Luke, and the Dr. Montague.
Then, I wanted to proceed with a further analysis, by a more precise study of each chapter, individually.
For the fun of it, I also ran the tool on the French translation of the book, the very first version I read back then.
Tropes is a semantic analysis software designed to extract relevant information from texts. It uses several analysis tools and techniques including:
This software was initially developed in 1994 by Pierre Molette and Agnes Landre on the basis of the work of Rodolphe Ghiglione.
For those interested, you can download the reports I have generated.
On this serie of graphs, each Reference appears as a sphere, whose surface is proportional to the number of words it contains.
The distance between the central class and the other classes is proportional to the number of Relations connecting them: in other words, when two classes are close together, they share many Relations, and when they are far from one another, they share few Relations.
These graphs show the Relations between the References. They are oriented: the References on the left of the central Reference are its predecessors, those on the right its successors.
This site was able to produce some statistics (figures) about the novel, and evaluate the education level required to understand it.
Indication of the number of years of formal education that a person requires in order to easily understand the text on the first reading.
Approximate representation of the U.S. grade level needed to comprehend the text.
The site also offers a very nice functionality: the "vocabulary builder" function allows you to generate a whole listing of all the difficult words found in the text, complete with definition, synonyms and examples. Obviously, the very simple words are not listed.
I believe this is quite useful if you are a young reader or if English is not your native language. For convenience, the listing is available "sorted in alphabetic order" or "sorted in the reading order".
For those interested, you can download the vocabulary listings I have generated.
To dig a little bit further, I replaced "Hill House" by "HillHouse" to allow it to be considered as one word. Then I launched another analysis, trying to link the words with their semantic fields.
So, it's not a surprise if you have read the book : the novel is focussing on a small number of characters, related to a house, discussing a lot, involved in non action (to think, to see, to know, etc).
This site offers to generate multiple visual representations of your text. There is such a plethora of options that I had to be reasonable and focus on two type of graphics.
The document is split into 10 arbitrary segments. For every segment you can figure out which character is the most prominent, important, in a word: often mentioned. The tool identified 5 main characters: Eleanor, Theodora, Dr. Montague, Luke and the house.
The tool examines the connections between all the characters and the world they relate to. The thicker the line is, the more intense the relation is.
|In the book...||In the film...|
|Hill House is 80 years old.||Hill House is 90 years old, although this change is not significant at all.|
|Hugh Crain has two daughters.||Hugh Crain has one daughter, Abigail.|
|Hugh Crain married three times.||Hugh Crain married twice.|
|Eleanor's mother died 3 months ago.||Eleanor's mother died 2 months ago.|
|In the book...||In the film...|
|Dr. John Montague.||Dr. John Markway.|
|Grace Montague.||Grace Markway.|
|Eleanor Vance.||Eleanor Lance.|
|Linnie (niece of Eleanor).||Dora Frederiks (niece of Eleanor).|
|Sophia Anne Lester Crain (one of the two daughters of Hugh Crain).||Only one daughter, Abigail Crain, in the movie.|
|Arthur Parker (friend of Grace Montague).||(this character is not present in the movie).|
|In the book...||In the film...|
|The book doesn't start with the history of Hill House. The story of the house is told much later in the book.||The movie starts right away with the story of Hill House.|
|Dr. Montague informs Eleanor that the village just before Hill House is named Hillsdale and that in Hillsdale, people are rude to strangers and openly hostile to anyone inquiring about Hill House.||Dr. Markway didn't leave any recommendation about where to stop and where not to stop.|
|Eleanor first stops to admire a row of splendid tended oleanders blooming pink and white in a steady row. As she leaves, Eleanor says "Another day I'll come back and break your spell".||Eleanor doesn't stop at all during the trip to Hill House.|
|Eleanor stops in a country restaurant, an old mill, after 101 miles. She finds herself seated upon a balcony over a dashing stream.||Eleanor doesn't stop at all during the trip to Hill House.|
|A family is also in the same restaurant. The little girl doesn't want to drink her milk because she wants her cup of stars. This "cup of stars" is very important in the book and will be mentioned several times.||Not a word about the "cup of stars" in the movie, although this item seems to be very important in the book.|
|Eleanor stops again just outside Ashton because she saw a tiny cottage, buried in a garden, with a small blue front door.||Eleanor doesn't stop at all during the trip to Hill House.|
|Eleanor stops in Hillsdale, just to have a coffee.||Eleanor doesn't stop at all during the trip to Hill House.|
|In Hillsdale, Eleanor thinks obscurely "It is my last chance".||Eleanor have this thought later (see below).|
|Before she enters the park, in front of Hill House's gates, Eleanor thinks "It is my chance; I'm being given a last chance. I could turn my car around right here and now in front of these gates and go away from here, and no one would blame me. Anyone has the right to run away".||Eleanor says these words, after she enters the park, when she first sees the house. She says exactly: "It is my chance. I'm being given a last chance. I could turn my car around and go away from here... and no one would blame me. Anyone has a right to run away. But you are running away, Eleanor... and there is nowhere else to go".|
|Mr Dudley says "I don't hang around here afterdark".||This is typically what Mrs Dudley says later to Eleanor, when she introduces Eleanor to her bedroom.|
|Mr and Mrs Dudley lives in Hillsdale.||Mrs Dudley: "We live over in town, miles away". The name of the town in not mentioned.|
|In the book...||In the film...|
|When Eleanor meets Theo, they decide to explore the garden immediately: "They ran across the grass; they followed the sound and smell of water".||When Eleanor meets Theo, they decide to explore the house immediately. But they never go outside Hill House.|
|Eleanor and Theo have a first experience down by the water: "They stared, watching the spot of hillside across the brook where the grass moved, watching something unseen move slowly across the bright green hill, chilling the sunlight and the dancing little brook".||Eleanor and Theo have a first experience in Hill House during their initial "exploration" of the house: Eleanor feels a chill and Theo concludes "It wants you Nell... The house is calling you".|
|As they come back, Eleanor and Theo meet Luke (in the Veranda) and then Dr. Montague (at the great front door).||Eleanor and Theo meet Dr. Markway (in the dinning room) and then Luke (preparing the drinks).|
|The doctor is round and rosy and bearded.||The doctor is slim, handsome and has a moustache.|
|Eleanor openly says "I love my love with a B. because he is bearded", directly referring to Dr. Montague. This is strange because, in the book, Eleanor has a crush on Luke and not on Dr. Montague.||Eleanor is never that "pushy" in the movie.|
|The group manages to leave all the doors wide open and block them open.||They don't have that concern in the movie.|
|The doctor warns: "The last person who tried to leave Hill House in darkness - it was 18 years ago - was killed at the turn of the driveway, where his horse bolted and crushed him against the big tree".||The First Mrs Crain died this way as she came to Hill House for the very first time. But nobody else did ever since.|
|The group talks about Eleanor's poltergeist experience after the dinner. They don't want to discuss anything during the dinner.||The group talks about Eleanor's poltergeist experience during the dinner.|
|Hugh Crain's (1st) young wife died minutes before she first was to set eyes on the house, when the carriage bringing her here overturned in the driveway.||Hugh Crain's (1st) young wife died minutes before she first was to set eyes on the house, when the horses bolted, crushing her carriage against the big tree.|
|The 2nd Mrs Crain died of a fall. Dr. Montague adds that he has been unable to ascertain how or why.||The 2nd Mrs Crain died of a fall down the stairs. Dr. Markway doesn't know exactly why but we know how she died.|
|After the death of their stepmother, the little girls were sent to live with a cousin, and there they remained until they were grown up.||Abigail Crain never left Hill House. She continued to live there with a nurse.|
|The 3rd Mrs Crain died of what they used to call consumption somewhere in Europe, with her husband.||There were only two "Mrs Crain" in the movie.|
|Hugh Crain died in Europe, shortly after his wife.||Hugh Crain died in Europe in a drowning accident.|
|The two daughters inherited Hill House. The older decided to live in Hill House. The younger was married and had given up her claim on the house in exchange for a number of family heirlooms, some of considerable value, which her sister then refused to give her.||Abigail Crain, unique daughter, inherits Hill House and naturally continues to live there.|
|The older sister died of pneumonia in Hill House. There were stories later of a doctor called too late, of the old lady lying neglected upstairs while the paid companion dallied in the garden with some village lout.||Abigail Crain died in the nursery, calling for help, whilst the companion was fooling around with a farm hand on the veranda.|
|The paid companion inherited Hill House but the younger Crain sister sued her. The paid companion won the case and remained in Hill House.||The paid companion inherits Hill House.|
|The paid companion hanged herself from the turret on the tower.||The paid companion hanged herself in the library.|
|The doctor makes his first experience that day, when he explores the house to find the chessboard. As he comes back, he repeats "My wild imagination; my own imagination".||The doctor only makes an experience at the end of the movie, when Grace is sleeping in the nursery.|
|Luke and Dr. Montague are playing chess.||Luke and Theo are playing chess.|
|Theo touches Eleanor's hand, which makes Eleanor feel really uncomfortable.||This event didn't make it to the movie version. Still, Eleanor is not comfortable with Theo touching her in the movie.|
|Eleanor drinks some brandy.||Eleanor doesn't drink any alcohol.|
|Eleanor took care of her mother for 11 years. The mother died 3 months ago.||Eleanor took care of her mother for 11 years. The mother died 2 months ago.|
|Theo touches Eleanor's cheek with her finger.||This event didn't make it to the movie version. Still, Eleanor is not comfortable with Theo touching her in the movie.|
|Theo talks about her apartment while Luke and Dr. Montague are playing chess.||Theo talks about her apartment much later, when she moves in, in Eleanor's bedroom.|
|Eleanor says "Once I had a blue cup with stars painted on the inside; when you looked down into a cup of tea it was full of stars". She borrowed this detail from the family having lunch with her, earlier in the restaurant by the dashing stream.||Eleanor doesn't mention the "cup of stars" at all in the whole movie.|
|Dr. Montague reads "Pamela"
Samuel Richardson's first novel, "Pamela: or Virtue Rewarded" (1740) was a bestseller in its time. As its heroine became an icon of feminine virtue, so she also became the subject of vicious parody. Within its didactic account of a servant girl who resists her libidinous master, this brilliant epistolary novel creates high erotic and moral tension.
|We don't know about Dr. Markway's readings while at Hill House.|
|Nothing happens the first night.||Eleanor and Theo are "attacked" in Theo's bedroom during the first night.|
|A second event happened the morning of the second day, as Luke and Dr. Montague are waiting for Eleanor and Theo to have a breakfast.
"That's how we knew you were coming. We saw the door swing shut".
|This event is not pictured in the movie. Furthermore, Eleanor and Dr. Montague are having breakfast, then Theo comes, then Luke comes.|
|Eleanor and Theo are visiting Mrs Dudley's kitchen, that features many doors.||The kitchen is not visited in the movie.|
|Luke holds Eleanor when she get dizzy, looking at the top of the tower.||Dr. Markway holds Eleanor when she get dizzy, looking at the top of the tower.|
|During the visit of the nursery, as they go through the cold spot, Theo mentions the "Borley Rectory" (supposedly the most haunted house in the UK).||The "Borley Rectory" is not mentioned in the movie.|
|Over the nursery doorway, two grinning heads were set; Luke explains: "When you stand where they can look at you, they freeze you".||The two heads are in the movie but the scene is so dark that you can't notice them.|
|Eleanor wants to plan a picnic outside.||No mention of the picnic in the movie.|
|Theo doesn't try to get in Eleanor's bedroom to re-style Eleanor's hair. They just go to each others' bedroom.||Theo says: "I'll come in for a second. You have been thinking of changing your hair. I know just the style for you".|
|During the attack, in Theo's bedroom, both doors are locked: Theo's door + Eleanor's door.||During the attack, in Theo's bedroom, only Eleanor's door is locked. They expect the worse because Theo's door is unlocked.|
|When she hears the Doctor and Luke passing the door, Theo opens her door. Eleanor is in her own bedroom, looking for some warm clothes.||When she hears the Doctor and Luke passing Theo's door, Eleanor opens the door. Theo and Eleanor are both in Theo's bedroom.|
|Dr. Montague mentions his wife during the breakfast: "My wife will never believe me". It is not an issue anyway because Eleanor is having a crush on Luke.||Dr. Markway never mentions her wife, until she pops up at the end of the movie. It is a real issue because Eleanor is having a crush on Dr. Markway.|
|Luke finds "Help Eleanor, Come Home" after the breakfast, as he is going back to the kitchen, asking for more coffee.||Luke finds "Help Eleanor, Come Home", before the breakfast, as he is going to the dining room.|
|After lunch, they all go to the garden.||In the movie, they never leave the house.|
|On the 3rd day, Theo finds her bedroom with blood all over the place.||This event didn't make it to the movie version.|
|"Help Eleanor, Come Home Eleanor" is also written in blood in Theo's bedroom. Slight change: Eleanor is repeated at the end.||This event didn't make it to the movie version.|
|What are they afraid of?
Dr. Montague: "We are only afraid of ourselves"
Luke: "[We are afraid] of seeing ourselves clearly and without disguise"
Theo: "[We are afraid] of knowing what we really want"
Eleanor: "I am always afraid of being alone".
|What are they afraid of?
Dr. Markway: "A modern man can react with the same unreasoning terror... to a supernatural event"
Eleanor: "I have always been more afraid of being alone or left out..."
Theo: "[I'm afraid] Of knowing what I really want"
Luke: "What I just saw in the hall".
|Eleanor comments the writing on the wall: "Those letters spelled out my name, and none of you know what that feels like - it is so familiar". And she gestured to them, almost in appeal. "Try to see", she said. "It is my own dear name, and it belongs to me, and something is using it and writing it and calling me with it and my own name...". She stopped and said, looking from one of them to another, even down onto Theodora's face looking up at her, "Look. There is only one of me, and it is all I have got. I hate seeing myself dissolve and slip and separate so that I'm living in one half, my mind, and I see the other half of me helpless and frantic and driven and I can't stop it, but I know I'm not really going to be hurt and yet time is so long and even a second goes on and on and I could stand any of it if I could only surrender - "||Eleanor comments the writing on the wall: "My name. It is my name! It belongs to me and something is using it. Writing it and calling me with my own name! That's it! It knows my name, doesn't it? It knows my name!"|
|Theodora comments the picture book (the legacy for education): "You were a dirty old man, and you made a dirty old house and if you can still hear me from anywhere I would like to tell you to your face that I genuinely hope you will spend eternity in that foul horrible picture and never stop burning for a minute".||Eleanor comments the picture book (the legacy for education): "Hugh Crain, you were a dirty man and you made a dirty house. If you can hear me, I'm telling you to your face... I hope you spend eternity in that foul, rotten book... and never stop burning for a minute".|
|When Theodora is tormenting Eleanor about her apartment ("is there any room for two"...), Eleanor is not angry at all and keeps on repeating "I had to come". Eventually, Eleanor leaves the room and the house, and walks in the night towards the little brook. Theo joins her...||When Theodora is tormenting Eleanor about her apartment ("is there any room for two"...), Eleanor is really angry and leaves the room to go to the terrace, where, joined by Theodora, they will hear Mrs Markway coming.|
|... and the night looks like a negative picture, with luminous evil glowing objects. They go on, deeper, in the forest.
"Eleanor and Theodora looked into a garden, their eyes blinded with the light of the sun and rich color; incredibly, there was a picnic party on the grass in the garden".
As they come back, Luke and Dr. Montague are really worried: "We've been nearly crazy; we've been out looking for you for hours!" added the Doctor.
|This event didn't make it to the movie version.|
|Mrs Montague arrives one afternoon, with Arthur Parker.||Mrs Markway arrives alone, one night.|
|Mrs Montague wants to be in the "Most haunting room" and Dr. Montague suggests "The nursery, I think".||Dr. Markway wants her wife in his room but she objects "I'll be very disappointed if I don't see a ghost. Hadn't you better put me in the ghostly dungeon...". Eleanor suggests the nursery but Dr. Markway is angry and very reluctant to let her wife alone in that room.|
|Arthur has white hair and he works as headmaster of his school.||Arthur didn't make it to the movie version.|
|Mrs Montague came to Hill House to perform some sessions with "planchette".||Mrs Markway came to Hill House to convince her husband to come back home ("A reporter's been telephoning all day. He is on your track. He has heard about you renting this place"). Suspecting he would not accept, she took all she needed to stay too.|
|Mrs Montague is very into supernatural, very exited and not really reasonable.||Mrs Markway does not believe in the supernatural, she is calm and reasonable.|
|After a session with "planchette", Mrs Montague has got a really weird message for Eleanor:
- Who are you?
- Nell who?
- Eleanor Nellie Nell Nell
- What do you want?
- Do you want to go home?
- Want to be home
- What are you doing here
- Waiting for what?
- Is Hill House your home?
- Are you suffering?
- (no answer there)
- Can we help you?
- What do you want
- Where is your mother?
- Where is your home?
- Lost. Lost. Lost.
|This event didn't make it to the movie version.|
|Eleanor thinks about what she really wants: "Peace. What I want in all this world is peace, a quite spot to lie and think, a quiet spot up among the flowers where I can dream and tell myself sweet stories".||Eleanor thinks about what she really wants: "Journeys end in lovers meeting. All I want is to be cherished. And here we are listening to that ridiculous harp".|
|Arthur and Mrs Montague are somewhere in the house. Dr. Montague, Luke, Theo and Eleanor are in the doctor's room. And the attack begins...||Mrs Markway is sleeping in the nursery. Dr. Markway, Luke, Theo and Eleanor are downstairs in the parlor. And the attack begins...|
|This event is not in the book.||The parlor's door "breathes".|
|Mrs Montague does not disappear in the book.||Mrs Markway disappears during the attack.|
|Luke, Theo and Eleanor are walking outside, towards the brook. Eleanor is heading the way. Suddenly, Luke and Theo are not following anymore, and Eleanor can see footsteps of an invisible creature in the grass.||This event didn't make it to the movie version.|
|All the members have gathered in a room, and Eleanor "looked at the empty center of the room where someone was walking and singing softly, and then she heard it clearly":
Go walking through the valley,
Go walking through the valley,
Go walking through the valley,
As we have done before...
Go in and out the windows,
Go in and out the windows,
Go in and out the windows,
As we have done before...
Go forth and face your lover,
Go forth and face your lover,
Go forth and face your lover,
As we have done before...
|This event didn't make it to the movie version.|
|Eleanor had awakened with the thought of going down to the library. Once in the library, Eleanor calls "Mother" and a voice answered "Come along". Eleanor ends up pounding on the door of Mrs Montague and then in the bedroom where Theo is sleeping. Then she runs and hides in the whole house, escaping the team that is looking for her everywhere. Then she finally ends up in the library, and gets up the spiral staircase.||During the last attack, Eleanor runs and ends up in the nursery. Dr. Markway, Luke and Theo join her there. While they're talking, Eleanor disappears again. She passes by Hugh Crain's statue and offers to dance with him. Then she finally ends up in the library, and gets up the spiral staircase.|
|The little trap door leads to a turret.||The little trap door leads to an attic where Mrs Markway appears.|
|Luke saves Eleanor in the library stairs.||Dr. Markway saves Eleanor in the library stairs.|
|Eleanor leaves Hill House in the morning, after the breakfast.||Eleanor leaves Hill House immediately, in the middle of the night.|
|They stayed in Hill House "A little over a week".||They stayed in Hill House just a couple of days.|
|Mrs Montague waves Eleanor good-bye, with all the others.||Mrs Montague is not there to say good-bye and re-appears behind the tree where Eleanor crashes her car.|
|In the book...||In the film...|
|Eleanor's bedroom is blue (a cold colour) and she is dressed in red.||The movie was purposely shot in black and white.|
|Dr. Montague's bedroom is pink.||The movie was purposely shot in black and white.|
|Luke's bedroom is yellow.||The movie was purposely shot in black and white.|
|Theo's bedroom is green (another cold colour) and she is dressed in yellow.||The movie was purposely shot in black and white.|
|The team gathers in the little parlour.||The team gathers in the purple parlour, although we see it in black and white.|
|In the book...||In the film...|
|Eleanor hates her mother.||Eleanor doesn't mention that she hated her mother.|
|Carrie is 6 years older than Eleanor.||We don't have this information in the movie.|
|Eleanor's father died when Eleanor was 12.||We don't have this information in the movie.|
|The poltergeist started one month after the death of the father, so Eleanor was 12 years old.||The poltergeist happened when Eleanor was 10.|
|Bud thinks that it is unfair that Eleanor should have the car during all the summer.||Bud is a coward and tries to convince Eleanor. Carrie is the mean one.|
|Bud and Carrie plan to spend the summer in the mountains and want the car in case Linnie gets sick.||Bud and Carrie don't have any special plan, they just want to forbid Eleanor to use the car.|
|Eleanor takes a cab to go to the garage.||We don't know how she gets to the garage.|
|Eleanor crashes into a very little lady, sending packages in all directions.||This event didn't make it to the movie version.|
|Eleanor comes to the garage and leaves immediately with the car.||Eleanor has to request the keys to the garage attendant.|
|Eleanor is expected on Thursday 21st of June.||We don't have this information in the movie.|
|In the book...||In the film...|
|Theo had an argument with her girlfriend when she received Dr. Montague's invitation.||This event didn't make it to the movie version.|
|Theo smashed the lovely little figurine. The girlfriend ripped to shreds a volume of Alfred De Musset, a present from Theo.||This event didn't make it to the movie version.|
|Theo wrote back to accept the invitation the same night and left in the morning.||This event didn't make it to the movie version.|
Title: Robert Wise
Author: Daniele Grivel,Roland Lacourbe
Paperback: 158 pages
Publisher: Edilig (January 1985)
Product Dimensions: 15 x 21,5 x 1,2 cm
Title: Cinematic hauntings
Author: (Collective work)
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Midnight Marquee PR Inc (June 1996)
Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1 inches; 2,5 x 15,9 x 23,5 cm
"Cinematic hauntings" is a book that every The Haunting fan should own.
Written by fans of the genre, the book explores 16 fantastic movies (including – of course – The Haunting) though 16 essays written by different writers, each devoted to a film.
Join us for a walk on the subtle side of horror as Cinematic Hauntings peers past the curtain of reality into Hollywood's vision of ghostly terror.
Films covered include:
Carnival of Souls, Curse of the Demon, High Plains Drifter, Lady in White, Legend of Hell House, Nomads, Outward Bound, Portrait of Jennie, Scrooge, Supernatural, The Changeling, The Haunting, The Innocents, The Shining and The Uninvited.
Intelligent, informative essays on several ghost films, May 11, 2006
The editors claim "ghost films have been too often overlooked by film historians critics." They intend to fill that gap in "the subtle side of horror" with this book. And it does, more so than not.
Cinematic Hauntings contains 16 essays by different writers, each devoted to one of the following films: Blithe Spirit, Carnival of Souls, The Changeling, Curse of the Demon, The Haunting, High Plains Drifter, The Innocents, Lady in White, Legend of Hell House, Nomads, Outward Bound, Portrait of Jenny, Scrooge (the 1951 version, later retitled A Christmas Carol), The Shining, Supernatural, and The Uninvited. Because I accept the editors' premise--the relative scarcity of text analyzing ghostly horror films--I question some selections.
If ghosts are spirits of deceased humans (or animals?) not all these films belong here. Some are a stretch. Is Carnival of Souls about a soul trapped between life and death, or a retelling of "An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge?" That can be good, demonstrating the resilient diversity of horror. But stretch a definition too far and the word loses meaning. Any way you slice it, Blithe Spirit is a comedy, and Curse of the Demon contains no ghosts.
Randy Palmer, who wrote the essay on the latter, anticipates this objection, writing: "Initially it may not seem that Curse of the Demon has a place in a book devoted to a study of cinematic hauntings, but in fact the film journeys beyond the metaphysical borders separating the physical and spiritual worlds, and many of its elements fit neatly into the category." He characterizes the film's shape-shifting cat, orb of fire, and demon as "ghostly manifestations of evil."
Well, no. These supernatural manifestations are not ghosts, even if they do look "ghostly." That said, Palmer's essay provides an excellent production history of both film and source material (Montague R. James's story, Casting the Runes), a detailed plot synopsis, and insightful commentary.
This format is followed by the other essays -- production and distribution history, synopsis, commentary -- with varying degrees of emphasis. I'm glad The Changeling is represented. Although little known, after The Haunting it's arguably the most effectively atmospheric English-language ghost film ever made. But instead of the 1951 Scrooge, I wish Tom Johnson had covered the 1970 version (which he dismisses). In its original release, I recall Scrooge ending up (temporarily) in Hell. That scene was later dropped (perhaps because it wasn't in Dickens's version) but I'd like to have learned its history.
Some entries need and deserve attention. Curse of the Demon deserves but does not need. I can understand not including Ghost (a romantic fantasy), but I wish Curse of the Demon and Blithe Spirit had been dropped in favor of Ghost Story and The Fog, both fitting candidates.
Caveats aside, Cinematic Hauntings is an attractive and informative trade paperback, generously illustrated with 115 stills, posters, lobby cards, and backstage photos. All entries include crew and cast lists. Two include endnotes. If the subject matter interests you, you'll want this book.
~ Thomas M. Sipos (Santa Monica, CA)
Ghost Cinema, like horse racing, has its own "triple crown." The first leg comes in the form of a truly haunting tale of love and hate from beyond the grave, The Uninvited (1944). The next big event in the apparitional arena is a terrifying study of repressed hysteria and supernatural possession, The Innocents (1961). But the undisputed jewel in the ghostly crown, the Kentucky Derby of spectral cinema, is Robert Wise's chilling masterpiece of understated terror, The Haunting.
"While I was at the studio doing post production on West Side Story (1961)," recalled producer/director Robert Wise in Midnight Marquee #37, "I read a review of [Shirley Jackson's novel,] The Haunting of Hill House in Time magazine. The review was so interesting that I went to a book store on Hollywood Boulevard and brought it back to the office to read. I was sitting on the couch in my office reading a sequence that really had me on the edge of my seat. Suddenly, Nelson Gidding, a writer from across the hall, burst into my office and I jumped about four feet in the air! I knew then this book had to be made into a film."
But Wise wasn't sure he'd be the one to make it. "I called nervously to see if it might be available," remembered the director in Bright Lights #11, "because usually by the time a book comes out in New York, the big movie companies have scouts back there, story departments, and they grab it up and it is gone." Happily, "I found out this one hadn't been picked up."
Wise intended to do The Haunting for United Artists, the studio for which he had just completed West Side Story (1961). "I persuaded United Artists to buy the book rights for me and finance a screenplay," the director told this author. (Unless otherwise cited, all quotes by Robert Wise are from a 1995 interview conducted by the author.) "And I got Nelson Gidding, who did I Want to Live! (1958) for me, to write the screenplay. When we got it done, however, for some reason or another United Artists got a little cold on it and didn't want to proceed with it. So I talked to my agent about it. I had left a contract with MGM a few years before; I got out of the contract early but I had to promise to give them another film. My agent suggested that maybe this could be the script that would fulfill that commitment. So we took it over to MGM."
There the project hit another snag when that celebrated studio balked at sinking big bucks into a horror picture. "They liked it very much," Wise recalled, "but they didn't want to put over a million dollars into it because of the material and the fact that we wouldn't be using big name stars. And the best budget I could get out of MGM Culver City here was one million, four hundred thousand" (nearly half - again what the studio was willing to spend).
Fortunately, fate took a hand. "I was about to go over to London for a command performance of West Side Story," recounted Wise, "and somebody said 'well, you know MGM has a studio outside of London [Boreham Wood Studios], and maybe they could get you a better budget on the script over there than Culver City.' So I took it along with me when I went to London and gave it to the people at the studio. They liked the idea and came back with a budget of a million, fifty thousand. And so that's why we made it over there, as what we call a 'runaway production' - 'runaway' because I could do it cheaper there."
Though shot in England with mostly English actors, Wise retained the story's American setting. "I was insistent on keeping the New England background," explained the director in Fangoria #44, "because Shirley Jackson is a New Englander and wrote in that area. I felt that this kind of story, with an old haunted house, would be fresher material set in America, in New England, than it would in Great Britain, because England abounds in haunted houses. Even though we shot in London, we kept the New England setting without too much trouble." Wise later added that it was no more difficult to transform Olde England into New England than having to "block off the road for a mile or two so I could have [Julie Harris] driving on the right side - that kind of thing. It was very simple, wasn't hard at all."
With the financial difficulties solved, Wise could turn to other problems. "We didn't like that title [The Haunting of Hill House]," the director stated in Fantastic Films, vol. 2, no. 4. "When I say 'we,' that particularly means me and Nelson Gidding, who did the screenplay. It seemed cumbersome, and the book had not done that well. Jackson is a marvelous writer, but her books were never tremendous sellers, they got most of their acclaim from the critics. We always felt that maybe there was a better title somewhere, and actually, she gave it to us. We had some questions about the story and her intent. Since she lived back in Vermont where her husband was a professor at Bennington, we made arrangements to fly back one weekend and meet with her. We wanted to talk about some things in her story, to get some clarifications on what her intentions were. We had lunch with her that day and during the course of it we asked her if she'd ever had any other title for it. She said, 'Well, I really hadn't. The only title I really ever seriously considered was The Haunting of Hill House. But the other one I had thought of for a while was just The Haunting.' It was in front of us all the time, but we never saw it. She is the one who gave us that."
Wise next had to find a cast. He ultimately chose one made up of primarily classically-trained and well-respected stars of the stage, including Richard Johnson and Claire Bloom (two British Shakespearean actors), and Julie Harris (an American Broadway star). To round out his leading quartet, Wise chose a young man with whom he had worked on West Side Story (1961). But, Russ Tamblyn initially wasn't interested. "You know, I actually turned The Haunting down the first time it was offered to me," the actor declared in Filmfax #27. "I was living in Paris and Robert Wise, who was in England, sent me the script to read. I thought all the other parts were great but, at that time - and don't ask me why - I didn't like the part that I had in it. I didn't like it at all for some reason, maybe just stupidity. I sent a note back to him 'Thank you very much, but no thanks.' Then I flew back to Los Angeles. I thought that Wise was just offering me the role, no big deal. But when I got back to L. A., once again my agent said, 'The studio called and said if you don't do that film, The Haunting, you'll go back on suspension.' Since I really didn't want to go months and months without getting paid, I jumped on a plane for England and did the picture. Of course, now I look back on it, and it is one of my favorite films."
Almost as important as finding the right actors was locating the proper setting for the film's biggest 'star' - Hill House itself. "We wanted a house that basically had an evil look about it," explained Robert Wise in Fantastic Films. "Since the film was going to be shot in England, we looked far and wide to find the right house. There are a lot of manor houses and old places in England, but one after the other did not fit our requirements. Finally, we found one [in Warwickshire] about ten miles down from Stratford-on-Avon. It was an old manor house [named Ettington Park], about two hundred years old, and it was being used as a country hotel." Wise felt that its "facing of mottled stone with gothic windows and turrets" were just what the spiritualist ordered.
[This is a very short excerpt of the section related to The Haunting. Buy the book to read it in its full length]
Title: unInvited: Classical Hollywood Cinema and Lesbian Representability
Author: Patricia White
Paperback: 396 pages
Publisher: Indiana University Press (October 1999)
Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches; 15,5 x 2 x 23,4 cm
Uncovering a massive trove of what she calls "lesbian representability" images of lesbian desire, love and life in mainstream movies, White provides an insightful look at classic American films. While some of the images and situations she cites are relatively obvious, as in A Member of the Wedding (1952), in which Julie Harris plays the tomboy Frankie Addams, many are more coded, as in Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940) or All This and Heaven Too with Bette Davis (1940). Ranging across an impressive span of films, White proves as conversant with the little-known ghost story The Uninvited (1944) as she is with the more famous (and openly lesbian) The Killing of Sister George (1969) or All About Eve (1944). While some readers may greet White's revelations of lesbian images in so many mainstream films with suspicion or weariness, her myriad examples and finely wrought arguments prove both convincing and engaging. She is at her most provocative when discussing lesbian innuendoes in the performances (and careers) of such leading lady sidekicks as Ethel Waters, Agnes Moorehead and Thelma Ritter. Grounding her analysis in feminist film theory, White expects her readers to have some knowledge of the works of Mary Ann Doan, Teresa De Lauretis and Annette Kuhn, although she is careful to explain their often complicated theories in accessible prose. ~ From Publishers Weekly, Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
White (Swarthmore College) seeks traces of lesbian desire and difference in the films of the classic era. Since the Production Code forbade even the slightest hint of sexual deviancy, White must engage in a great deal of what she calls retrospectatorship, with somewhat mixed results. She begins by discussing the Code itself; moves on to a discussion of star personae (e.g., Davis, Hepburn, Dietrich, Garbo), the gothic/horror film and maternal melodrama, overt lesbian overtones among supporting players such as McDaniel, Waters, Fitter, McCambridge, and — especially — Moorehead; and closes with a chapter on retrospectatorship. She draws on all of the major figures in feminist film theory, if only to chastise them for ignoring the lesbian spectator. Since White covers much of the same ground that Mary Ann Doane does in The Desire to Desire: The Woman's Films of the 1940s (CH, Oct'87), she is particularly concerned with correcting Doane's omissions. White writes with considerable flair, and her arguments are always interesting, if not always fully convincing. A useful addition to studies of spectatorship in and of the classic era. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals. ~ W. A. Vincent, Michigan State University, Choice, July 2000
What have been considered the very best of "serious" Hollywood ghost movies — Curse of the Cat People (1944), The Uninvited (1944), The Innocents (1961), and Robert Wise's 1963 horror classic The Haunting to name a few, are also, by some uncanny coincidence, films with eerie lesbian overtones. Masquerading as family romance, these films unleash an excess of female sexuality which cannot be contained without recourse to the supernatural. To be more explicit, in the case of The Haunting, female homosexuality is manifested in the character of Claire Bloom. Regrettably though perhaps understandably eclipsed by two films Wise directed just before and after The Haunting, namely West Side Story and The Sound of Music, the film will maintain its place in cinematic history for two reasons. First, it is one of the few Hollywood films that has a lesbian character. Claire Bloom appears as what is perhaps the least objectionable of sapphic stereotypes — the beautiful, sophisticated, and above all predatory lesbian. Although not herself a fashion designer, her wardrobe is by Mary Quant; she has ESP, and she shares top billing with Julie Harris, a star who from her film debut in The Member of the Wedding through her incongruous casting as James Dean's love interest in East of Eden, to her one-woman-show as The Belle of Amherst, has insistently been coded eccentric. The second reason for which The Haunting is remembered is its effectiveness as a horror film. Like its source, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, the movie is adept in achieving in the spectator what Dorothy Parker on the book jacket calls "quiet, cumulative shudders." At least one reliable source pronounces The Haunting "undoubtedly the scariest ghost movie ever made." It is clear that reason number two is related to reason number one — for The Haunting is one of the screen's most spine-tingling representations of the disruptive force of lesbian desire.
Though the alliance of horror with lesbianism may leave one uneasy, it should be pointed out that the horror genre has been claimed by film criticism as a "progressive" one on several grounds. Concerned with the problem of the normal, it activates the abnormal in the "threat" or the figure of the monster. Linda Williams has noted a potentially empowering affinity between the woman and the monster in classic horror films, without exploring the trope of the monster as lesbian. The omission of any mention of lesbian desire is all the more striking given her thesis: it is a truism of the horror genre that sexual interest resides most often in the monster and not the bland ostensible heroes," or, "clearly the monster's power is one of sexual difference from the normal male."
The horror genre manipulates codes specific to the cinema — camera angles that warp the legibility of the image and the object of the gaze; framing that evokes the terror of what-lies-beyond the frame; sound effects that are not diegetically motivated; unexplained point-of-view shots that align the spectator with the monster — for effect and affect.
In The Haunting the two female leads, both "touched by the supernatural" (as it were), are invited to take part in a psychic experiment in a haunted New England mansion. As explicitly deviant women, they are asked to bear witness to an other power, an alternative reality They join their host Dr. Markway (Richard Johnson), the pompous anthropologist turned ghost-buster, and the wisecracking future heir to the house, Luke (Russ Tamblyn), who is skeptical of any unusual "goings-on". A truly terrifying sojourn with the supernatural at Hill House leaves the Julie Harris character dead due to unnatural causes and the spectator thoroughly shaken.
[This is a very short excerpt of the section related to The Haunting. Buy the book to read it in its full length]
Title: Robert Wise on his Films - From editing room to director's chair
Author: Sergio Leemann
Paperback: 223 pages
Publisher: Silman-James Press (August 2006)
Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 0.5 x 11 inches; 22 x 1,2 x 28 cm
Robert Wise created his own production company ("Argyle", first known as "B&P"), and began negotiating his deals with the studios on a film-per-film basis.
Instigated by a favourable review of Shirley Jackson's disturbing ghost story "The Haunting of Hill House", Wise purchased a copy of the book and set about reading it at the Goldwyn Studios, where he was preparing "West Side Story". As he recalls: "I was reading one of the very scary passages - hackles were going up and down my neck - when Nelson Gidding, who was working in the office next door to mine, burst through the door to ask me a question. I literally jumped about three feet out of my chair. I said, 'If it can do that to me sitting and reading, it ought to be something I want to make a picture out of' ". Gigging wrote the screenplay and Wise tried to activate the project when he finished "West Side Story", but the Mirisch company had lost interested in it. MGM picked up the project and "The Haunting" was released in 1963. It was a commercial failure, but slowly began to attract a following and is regarded today as one of the key titles in the haunted-house genre.
The story's setting is Hill House, a New England mansion with a history of macabre happenings. A group of psychic researchers gather to study the place, and one of its members, Eleanor, played by Julie Harris, falls prey to its spell. "The Haunting" stresses the psychological aspect of the story, maintaining a basic ambiguity as to how much is real and how much is a product of Eleanor's imagination. In his first chiller since his beginnings as a director under Val Lewton's tutelage, Wise applies his old mentor's theory that if seen things are scary, unseen things are scarier, and extracts truly frightening moments by merely implying terror through the inspired use of the sound and the sense black-and-white photography. Wise believes that a director "can go farther in terms of style in stories of the supernatural. A film like "The Haunting" is a lot of fun to make because you can do so much with offbeat photography and the use of sound and music. Val always said that the greatest fear that people have is the fear of the unknown. Unlike so many films that are made now which try to scare by showing the most monstrous things you can possibly think, "The Haunting" frightens the viewer by just suggesting them."
I liked Shirley Jackson's book very much and was disappointed when United Artists, who had bought it for me, got a little cold on it and put it in turnaround. I was talking about it with my agent, and he reminded me that when I settled my contract with MGM in 1957, they made me promise that I would give them another picture down the line. I got the screenplay over to them when I was shooting "Two for the Seesaw". They liked it and wanted to do it but would only spend a million dollars on it. We had their production department do a breakdown, and the best figure they could come up with was $1,400,000. Then somebody told me about the MGM studio in Borehamwood, outside of London; maybe they could do it for a better price in England. I met the fellows at the studio and they came back with a schedule that I could live with and a budget that came in at $1,050,000. That's how it turned out that the picture was entirely made in England. Still, I kept the New England background of the original story because I felt that the haunting of the house was fresher in the American scene.
Regrettably, "The Haunting" was my last black-and-white film and I loved the look and style of it. All the interiors were designed by Elliot Scott and built on the Borehamwood lot. The exterior was a several-hundred-years-old manor house out in the country, about ten miles from Straftford-upon-Avon. It was a pretty horrifying-looking thing under certain kinds of lights, and I accentuated that by shooting some of the exteriors with infra-red film. I shot the film in Panavision and, at that time, there wasn't any wide-angle lens in anamorphic. The widest was maybe a 40mm. I wanted to make those hallways look long and dark and dank. I called the president of Panavision, Bob Gottschalk, and asked, "Don't you have any wider-angle lens? I really want to get an almost unreal feeling about this house". He said, "We have developed a 30mm, but it's not ready for use. It's got a lot of distortion in it". I said, "That's exactly what I need for certain places - I wanted the house to look almost alive". He didn't want to let me have it. I kept insisting and he finally relented on the proviso that I understood that it was not a finished lens and had distortions in it. I had to sign a document saying that I was willing to accept the extra amount of distortion and would never go back to Panavision and complain about it. I used it most effectively in just certain shots.
"The spiral staircase in the library was such an effective prop in the picture. It was scary when you were up on that thing and it was rocking around. The one shot we did on it that fascinates people the most is when the camera is at the bottom and goes up. We designed the banister of the stairway to be so wide and thick that it would fit a small rig with wheels on it - a little, light dolly that would hold a hand-held camera. We had our camera on that and we had a control wire underneath, all the way down. We simply took the camera up on the top of this rig, started it, rolled it down, and then reversed the film. It was all done on that balustrade. Another simple effect was the door that buckles. The door was all laminated wood, layers of wood on top of others. All I had was a strong prop man on the other side who would push it and move it. That's all it was and it scared the hell out of everybody.
"It's obvious in the story and what we put on the screen that Claire Bloom's character is a lesbian. We originally had a scene at the beginning with Claire in the bedroom of her apartment, and she's angry and yelling out the windows at somebody. Then she goes and writes with lipstick on the mirror, "I hate you". I guess we caught a glimpse of the person in the car, showing it was a woman. Anyway, we established that this was a love affair with another woman. We thought that labelled it too heavily and hurt the scene, so we dropped it. It was better to let see it develop when Julie Harris turns to her in the scene out on the terrace and refers to her as being unnatural".
[This is a very short excerpt of the section related to The Haunting. Buy the book to read it in its full length]
Title: The films of Robert Wise
Author: Richard C. Keenan
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Scarecrow Press (August 2007)
Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9 inches; 15,5 x 1,5 x 23 cm
From his early days as a film editor at RKO studios, where he helped Orson Welles shape Citizen Kane, to his success as a director and producer of musical blockbusters of the 1960s, Robert Wise had a long and illustrious film career. Unlike contemporaries such as Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford or Howard Hawks, however, Wise's films lack any clearly discernible characteristics to signify his work. There are few striking camera angles or visual flourishes that might distract from the primary obligation to present the story. And like Hawks, Wise never specialized in one or two genres, but brought his directing skills to all manner of films. His work as a director resists auteur categorization, and that is a chief reason why some critics have been unduly negative in their consideration of his work.
In The Films of Robert Wise, Richard Keenan examines the nearly forty features that represent the director's career — from Curse of the Cat People (1944) to A Storm in Summer (2001), the only television production Wise ever directed. Keenan offers a reappraisal of Wise's films so that the true quality of his work can be better appreciated. Keenan argues that if there was a flaw in Robert Wise as a director, it was that he lacked the ego and temperament of the artist, which was not necessarily a flaw at all. Indeed, Wise was a conscientious craftsman who saw his work not primarily as a vehicle for his own ideas and visual style, but as an opportunity to present narrative that — quite simply — engages, informs, and entertains. It was this perspective that helped produce a number of memorable films over the years, including the gritty noir Born to Kill, the one-two punch of The Set-Up and Somebody Up There Likes Me, the sci-fi prophecy The Day the Earth Stood Still, and the gripping indictment of capital punishment, I Want to Live! — classics all. Wise also won a pair of Oscars for two of the most memorable — not to mention successful — musicals of all time: West Side Story and The Sound of Music.
Drawing on more than 30 hours of interviews with Wise — as well as additional interviews with a number of his collaborators — Keenan offers a welcome reassessment of the director's work. In his analysis of each film, Keenan reveals both Wise the craftsman and the artist. In doing so, The Films of Robert Wise finally confers upon this underappreciated director the recognition he deserves.
The author is generally evenhanded in granting measured attention to each of Wise's films. We are lucky to have now a critical study of the films of Robert Wise, but even luckier that The Films of Robert Wise is so persuasive and thoughtful. ~ Peter Tonguette, Film International
Robert Wise (1914-2005) was an American film director and producer best known for such works as The Day the Earth Stood Still, West Side Story, The Sound of Music, and The Sand Pebbles. This book by Keenan (English and modern languages, U. of Maryland) is an appreciative discussion of the value and merit of Wise's filmic craftsmanship that discusses the 40 movies Wise produced or directed. It draws on many interviews with Wise, as well as first-hand observation of Wise's working methods on the set of Star Trek: the Movie. One of those interviews is include in an appendix, together with a bibliography and a filmography. ~ Reference and Research Book News, November 2007
This book was many years in the making, and involves over thirty hours of interviews and countless correspondence with Wise and others associated with these productions. ~ Film Quarterly
Title: Self and Society in the Films of Robert Wise
Author: Justin E. A. Busch
Paperback: 277 pages
Publisher: McFarland (August 2010)
Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.7 x 8.9 inches; 15 x 1,8 x 22,6 cm
One of the most versatile Hollywood filmmmakers, Robert Wise had a number of renowned films under his directorial belt, including The Day The Earth Stood Still, West Side Story, The Sound of Music, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Nonetheless, Wise remains a rarely studied Hollywood figure -- while many filmgoers know and love his films, few recognize his name. This book, the first in-depth analysis of Wise's cinematic achievement, uncovers the elements that link the director's diverse cinematic subjects and examines the ways in which tensions between individuals and their societies are explored. His films are seen from a new perspective that will heighten an appreciation for the range and depth of his overall body of work.
Title: I Was a Monster Movie Maker, Conversations with 22 Science Fiction and Horror Filmmakers
Author: Tom Weaver
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: McFarland; Reprint edition (30 April 2011)
Product Dimensions: 17,5 x 2,3 x 25,1 cm
I truly enjoyed reading this book, that I discovered only recently (summer 2016). I was fascinated by Nelson Gidding's alternative theory regarding the novel: The haunted house is not real; Eleanor is institutionalized, under shock treatments; What she describes is her imaginary world, her distorted perception of the real world. And with Nelson Gidding's explanation, it all makes sense, it's plausible: the cold spot, the noises, the bangings on the wall, the doors closing by themselves, etc.
Again, I sincerely believe that Nelson Gidding has created an excellent movie script out of the [already fascinating] novel. It was a genuinely inspired and very creative work: as you might have read somewhere else on this page, there are countless differences between the book and the movie. It was not just a matter of editing here and there, adding more dialogues, and cutting some scenes. I was not surprised to read it was a 6-month work.
A collection of 22 interviews with the moviemakers responsible for bringing such films as This Island Earth, The Haunting, Carnival of Souls, Pit and the Pendulum, House of Wax, Tarzan the Ape Man, The Black Cat, Them! and Invasion of the Body Snatchers to the movie screen. Faith Domergue, Michael Forest, Anne Helm, Suzanna Leigh, Norman Lloyd, Maureen O'Sullivan, Shirley Ulmer, Dana Wynter[, Nelson Gigging] and many more are interviewed.
More Great SciFi/Horror Movie Interviews!! Love This Stuff!!!, December 24, 2012
Featuring Phil (Luke Skywalker's uncle) Brown...Booth (Planet of the Apes) Coleman...Faith (This Island Earth) Domergue...Michael (Viking Women) Forest...Nelson (The Haunting screenwriter) Gidding...Anne (The Magic Sword) Helm....Candace (Carnival of Souls) Hillgoss...Michael (Navy vs. Night Monsters writer-director) Hoey...John (Pit and the Pendulum) Kerr...Phyllis (House of Wax) Kirk...Suzanna (The Lost Continent) Leigh...Yvonne (Teenage Werewolf) Lime...Norman (actor, Alfred Hitchcock Presents producer) Lloyd...Maureen (Tarzan) O'Sullivan...Paul (House of Wax) Picerni...Anthony (Incubus producer) Taylor...Shirley Ulmer...Ray (My Favorite Martian) Walston...Joan (Them) Weldon...June (Macumba Love) Wilkinson...William Read Woodfield...and Dana (Invasion of the Body Snatchers) Wynter.
In this welcome addition to the Tom Weaver library of compilations of interviews with makers of science fiction and horror movies and TV shows, we have another collection of long-remembered stars and producers and writers, from House of Wax romantic lead Paul Picerni (later second-billed on The Untouchables series) to the elegant English actress Dana Wynter.
Ray Walston talks about his performances with Bela Lugosi in one of the Hungarian actor's many stage revivals of Dracula, playing Renfield and how Lugosi falsely claimed to him he was going to be forced by contract to do Frankenstein so he went out and himself found Boris Karloff to do it instead.
Norman Lloyd, veteran of Orson Welles movies and prolific actor, goes into depth about producing Alfred Hitchcock Presents on TV.
Anthony Taylor describes how he shot Incubus in the obscure artificial language, Esperanto, because he wanted to get the feel of a foreign film.
Shirley Ulmer, daughter of director Edgar Ulmer, describes how John Carradine, hiding out from an ex-wife looking for alimony, stayed with her family for awhile, which turned out to be quite awhile, and it was great.
Joan Weldon talks about how she was only 20 years old, but had to play a more mature scientist in her role in the giant ant movie, Them, first and best of the giant insect features.
Another outstanding compilation from Tom Weaver.
~ Nick Howes (Nashville, IL)
Noises in the hallway beyond a closed door. A weird configuration on an ornate bed frame. An area of cold air. A door, once locked, now standing open.
These might sound like mild (perhaps even improbable) ingredients for a full-fledged fright film, and yet they add up to almost unbearable suspense in The Haunting (1963), the classic haunted house melodrama based on Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting of Hill House. Director Robert Wise and his cast (Julie Harris, Richard Johnson, Claire Bloom, Russ Tamblyn) have received full marks for their contributions to this masterpiece of unseen terror, but too often neglected is the excellent screenplay by Nelson Gidding, who went beyond Jackson's 1959 novel to furnish the film with its most spine-tingling scenes.
Talk about The Haunting — how did you get the job of adapting Shirley Jackson's book for the screen?
Bob was sent the book and he gave it to me to read, and he asked me what I thought. I said it was great, and he said, "I think so, too. Let's do it. We'll do it as a ghost story." I worked on that with him, and in the middle of that process, when I was halfway through it, it dawned on me that this wasn't a ghost story at all. It's about a women who's had a nervous breakdown and has been institutionalized. The haunted house is actually the institution, the sanitarium where she is a patient. And Markway, the head of the experiment in the haunted house, is actually her doctor. Theo is her nurse, and Eleanor is a patient. This is all true; I did quite a bit of research once I had this idea. A cold spot is shock treatment; I understand that, when you undergo shock treatment, you feel cold, very cold afterwards. And of course the violence of the shock treatment itself is the noise and the banging of the haunted house. And people were always opening and closing doors because it was a locked institution. [In the movie, the doors of Hill House open and close by themselves.] It worked perfectly. I could give you chapter and verse, I had a very good case for it.
How did you intend to get across to the audience the fact that the haunted house was actually a sanitarium? With a scene at the end?
I suppose I would have, but I don't know — I didn't get that far. We had written a ghost story and it was supposed to be that, and we weren't going to change it drastically. But we figured this might be the real meaning. Bob said, "Let's go and see Shirley Jackson,", and we did — we went from California to Bennington, Vermont, where her husband [literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman] was a teacher. We had a meeting with her, had lunch with her, and told her this idea. And she said no — she said, "It's a good idea, but — that isn't it. [The Haunting] is a ghost story." And that was that.
And yet there's a whiff of that left in the movie you wrote. The audience never quite knows if the ghosts are real or if —
That's right, it's left hanging, it's "open." Is Eleanor [Julie Harris] disturbed, or are these [ghosts] the real thing? That's the one thing Bob and I didn't agree on: I believe in the supernatural, something that is not explained yet but will have an explanation someday. He doesn't believe, he'll have no part of the supernatural. But he can easily stretch his imagination to anything in space, flying saucers or anything like that. That he can understand and believe in, but the supernatural? He does not.
What was Shirley Jackson like?
She was wonderful, a very smart woman. We spent a few hours with her, and she was gracious. I had liked her work before — The Haunting wasn't the first time I had come across her work. She wrote a very good, very famous "long short story" called The Lottery.
If you had had more money in your budget, would you have wanted "bigger" stars?
Oh, no, no! Very wonderful actors we had. Richard Johnson worked perfectly as the professor who is from England, and who works now at an American college. Julie Harris was a stage actress, and she was wonderful — and still is now!
How long did it take to write the script?
It wasn't fast. It was probably something over six months. When I started, I believe Bob was working on West Side Story .
Did you pass pages along to Wise as you finished them, as many writers do?
No, not as I finished them. I passed them along to him as I wanted him to read them, just to show him how it was coming along. To give him confidence and to give me confidence in the project. Also, keep in mind that I had already a complete treatment, so there were no surprises in it.
Were you in England when they made the movie?
Yes, I was there and I saw the house — I thought it was a wonderful house, just perfect. The house itself was great and the way Bob shot it was great. He made the house a character. The book also did that, and so did my screenplay: It made the house a character, one of the main characters. And Bob did it superbly well. It was actually a hotel; before it was a hotel, I don't know what is was. But it had its own private ghost!
The way The Haunting ends, the viewer is left to wonder whether the house is haunted —
Or whether Eleanor is psychotic. There's plenty of evidence in there to show that she is... but there's also plenty of evidence to show that these [supernatural] things are happening. My belief is that the house is haunted.
Do you believe in ghosts?
I believe that this house was haunted, and I believe there could be such as thing as a haunted house. But it could be paranormal, and that the things that happen [in haunted houses] will be explained someday.
There is a hint in the movie that the ghosts are real: Julie Harris continues to narrate the movie after she's dead. That's not in the novel.
No, it's not. And, you're right, that's a clue that the house is haunted. The house goes on being haunted, and she's now one of the people — maybe the main person — haunting it.
"We who walk here, walk alone," she says at the end.
Yes! Glad you caught that.
Was there any hesitation on anybody's part about bringing the hints of lesbianism from the novel to the screen?
I felt the taint of it in the novel, and we put it in. We had to be very careful of it in those days, but we sketched it in because we felt it should be there as part of... well, the unnatural. We had the supernatural, and in those days [lesbianism] would be considered unnatural. But now, it's almost unnatural to be straight [laughs]! We shot for the beginning of the movie a scene where Claire Bloom's girlfriend is leaving the apartment where they live, and Claire is throwing things out the window. It's a small scene, just mostly a shouting match from Claire in the window to her girlfriend in the car.
Why was it cut from the movie?
Maybe for reasons of length. Maybe they thought it wasn't up to snuff. I don't know why.
Robert Wise seemed glad to get back to making movies in the U.S. after The Haunting. He complained in a 1963 interview about British union rules that were antiquated.
That's right, you had to get permissions to break at certain times. And permission not to break. If tea time is at 4:15, in the middle of a very expensive shot that's taken you half a day to set up, they will quit — it's up to them! So you have to get permission. And if you forget to say "Please" or "Thank you", some of them won't do what you're asking! That didn't bother Wise because he's very civil and he's naturally polite, a thorough gentleman in every sense of the word. But it's a pain in the ass, nevertheless!
[This is a very short excerpt of the section dedicated to Nelson Gidding. Buy the book to read it in its full length]
Title: Robert Wise Shadowlands
Author: Wes D. Gehring
Paperback: 345 pages
Publisher: Indiana Historical Society (August 2012)
Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9 inches; 2,5 x 15,7 x 23 cm
Born in Winchester, Indiana, Robert Wise spent much of his youth sitting in darkened movie theaters enthralled by the swashbuckling heroics of screen legend Douglas Fairbanks Sr. Through these viewings, Wise developed a passion for film a passion he followed for the rest of his life, making movies in Hollywood. Nationally known film historian Wes D. Gehring explores Wise's life from his days in the Hoosier State to the beginning of his movie career at RKO studios working as the editor of Orson Welles's classic movie Citizen Kane. Wise is best known for producing and directing two of the most memorable movie musicals in cinema history, West Side Story (co-director Jerome Robbins) and The Sound of Music, for which he won four Academy Awards two Best Picture and Best Director Oscars. But, as Gehring notes, other than Howard Hawks, Wise was arguably Hollywood's most versatile director of various celebrated genre films. For example, his roots in horror go back to a tutelage under the great producer Val Lewton, with Wise directing Boris Karloff's chilling The Body Snatcher (1945) for Lewton. Years late Wise brilliantly adapted a Shirley Jackson novel as a homage to Lewton, The Haunting (1963). No less a horror aficionado than Stephen King later gave both Jackson's novel (originally entitled The Haunting of Hill House) and the film his highest praise in his nonfiction study of horror, Danse Macabre. In an American Film Institute seminar in 1980 Wise told students, "People ask me, do I prefer to do musicals to drama or comedy? I like them all. If it's good, exciting, gripping, original material, that's what's important, what counts." Wise died on September 14, 2005, four days after his ninety-first birthday.
Wes D. Gehring is a professor of film at Ball State University and an associate media editor for USA Today Magazine, for which he also writes the column "Red World." The award-winning author of thirty-one books, Gehring has written biographies of such screen legends as Charlie Chaplin, W. C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Irene Dunne, Carole Lombard, James Dean, Steven McQueen, and Red Skelton.
Wonderful Read!!!!, June 3, 2014
Film maker Robert Wise (1914-2005) -- perhaps best known for directing big-budget musicals like "The Sound of Music" and "West Side Story" -- is not usually associated with Indiana. However, Gehring (Ball State University) , the foremost authority on Hoosier entertainers (with previous biographies on James Dean, Carole Lombard, and Red Skelton) , ably demonstrates how Wise's mid-western roots influenced his film career. Particularly thorough are the chapters on Wise's early work with Orson Welles and Val Lewton and on Wise's subsequent successes in genres as diverse as science fiction, horror, film noir, and war melodrama. Having written or edited more than 30 books on film, Gehring knows much about the Hollywood scene...[and] the book is a welcome addition to the literature, providing greater depth on Wise's character than either Richard Keenan's "The Films of Robert Wise" (CH,Mar'08, 45-3681) or Justin Busch's "Self and Society in the Films of Robert Wise" (CH,Feb'11 48-3166) -- J.I. Deutsch, George Washington University, "Choice," the magazine of the American Library Association.
With the musical [West Side] Story and the realistic romantic comedy Two [for the Seesaw], Wise had essentially completed his goal of directing all the mainstream genres. Therefore, the time seemed right to revisit his horror-film roots by tackling an adaptation of a novel considered to be one of the twentieth century's pivotal works of horror, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, in the process turning it into an unofficial tribute to mentor Val Lewton. In addition to the book's psychological horror foundation being fertile ground for a homage to the subtextual terror of Lewton, Jackson's work taps into a popular component in many Wise pictures — the spooky old house as a metaphor. Fittingly, the director's great pleasure in simply reading the novel was undoubtedly further embellished by the fact that "Houses loomed large in her [Jackson's] imagination [and work], as places that promise but never quite deliver some respite from everyday terrors." And just as this novel is Jackson's best example of a house as a depository for evil, Wise's adaptation holds a comparable cinematic place among his films.
Film historian William K. Everson has praised the psychological horror picture, or what might simply be labeled an "intelligently scary — non-gore movie," as "nothing that the camera can show can possibly be as horrible as what the mind can imagine; it suggests nothing, and suggests all." While this wonderfully describes the Lewton/Wise approach to horror, the quote can also have a subtextual meaning. That is, just as the viewer's imagination can be more frightening than on-screen special effects, watching the meltdown of a child or childlike horror film heroine, be it young Ann Carter in Wise's The Curse of the Cat People (1944) or Julie Harris's naïve recluse in [The] Haunting, takes the audience's horror musings to a disturbing second tier. One is not just imagining the cause of that movie bump in the night. There is now a disturbing concern for whatever is going on in the mind of the picture's vulnerable core character — an innocent civilian who has not paid money, a la the horror aficionado, for what Alfred Hitchcock claimed was the genre's "beneficial shocks." Thus, while Christopher Nolan's Inception (2010) reveals disturbing dreams within dreams, [The] Haunting encourages scary imagining about another's imagination.
For the casual fan, however, the downside of intelligent horror is that, to paraphrase critic/author Jeff VanderMeer, the film requires the viewer to "collaborate with the artist, to fill in the gaps."
Paradoxically, as much as Wise admired the novel, he sometimes struggled with Jackson's purpose. At its most basic, the tale is about an anthropologist who brings together three people for "an experiment in psychic research." The setting is Hill House, a spooky old New England Victorian mansion (Ettingen Hall [Ettington Park], near Stratford-on-Avon [Stratford-upon-Avon] in England, doubled for Hill House), which may or may not be haunted. The academic is Doctor John Markway (Richard Johnson), and the subjects include Eleanor Lance (Julie Harris), who had a poltergeist experience as a child; Theodora (Claire Bloom), a Greenwich Village free spirit with extrasensory perception powers; and Luke Sanderson (Russ Tamblyn), a nephew watchdog for the mansion's absentee owner. Ultimately, Harris's character is the house's only victim, but there is no overt act. Instead, Hill House's seemingly supernaturally possessed nature, from its spiritual world cold spots to the animalistic noises and deafening poundings on interior doors, seems to be taking over Eleanor's mind, just as her controlling invalid mother had done during the daughter's trying time as a caretaker. But Wise later wrote a fan that during preproduction he and his screenwriter (Nelson Gidding) went back East to discuss Eleanor's plight with Jackson, since the author generally avoided interviews/explanations about her writing. "At one point, she [Jackson] said that everybody needed a home and since there was no home for Eleanor ... anyplace else [after her mother's death], she ... [went] to Hill House," Wise said. "Reasons why she succumbed and others didn't were explained the way you have put it [the others had someone]. I know the picture caused confusion among quite a number of people who saw it. I could only wish that they had gotten the point as clearly and succinctly as you did."
Wise's comments were possibly influenced by mixed reviews from Variety and the New York Times." Sadly, Richard C. Keenan's often insightful book, The Films of Robert Wise, suggests the film met with "little enthusiasm by the reviewers of the day." Keenan seems to base that perspective on only the Variety and [New York] Times reviews. A more thorough examination of period critiques finds [The] Haunting and Wise heavily praised. Indeed, even the majority of New York City newspapers, publications that had so nitpicked Two [for the Seesaw], were full of praise for [The] Haunting. The New York World-Telegram's William Peper wrote: " 'The Haunting' is a movie that believes in ghosts and before it's over, it should have audiences believing in them, too, for it is a genuinely spooky film. . . . At creating a mood of unseen terror, Wise is a thumping success." Rose Pelswick's New York Journal American critique, "Bang-Up Thriller Full of Suspense," closed with the following good-humored praise for the chilling tale: "If this one had been released during the summer months, the theatres wouldn't have had to turn on their cold air units." Critic Judith Crist was even more superlative in her New York Herald Tribune review, serving up sagely pluralist perspectives on the film's meaning, indicating that the film was "a thoroughly satisfying ghost story for grown-ups done with a style and professionalism that has long been denied spook-story addicts. ... Is it the story of a haunted house, a study of the effects of fear upon an already neurotic mind, an allegory of a nervous breakdown? Play with it as you will ... and have a delicious wallow in the horror of 'The Haunting.' "
The brilliance of Jackson's novel, and Wise's adaptation, regardless of one's interpretation of the story's meaning (one could also apply critic Roland Barthes's constant theme of "the instability of [any] meaning"), involves the ultimate act of betrayal in which the home is not a sanctuary. Like the desertion of one's friends/family in film noir, another genre that shaped Wise, this kind of hurt stung the most. Yet, just as an abused child and/or spouse will often cling to the oppressor because that is all she/he has, Harris's Eleanor ultimately seems to succumb to the house because that is all she has.
As a final footnote to the power of [The] Haunting, beyond the horror genre, the work can also be seen as a tongue-in-cheek metaphor for any abode where creative types work their magic. Critic Terrence Rafferty once wrote of another Jackson literary home, "In a way ... [this] crazy house is where writers go when they write, that quiet spot where nothing is ever as peaceful as it seems." Imagine the imagery swirling around in the mind of Stephen King as he writes his novels in yet another New England Victorian mansion.
[This is a very short excerpt of the book. Buy it to read it in its full length]
Title: Shirley Jackson, a rather haunted life
Author: Ruth Franklin
Hardcover: 624 pages
Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation (October 2016)
Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.6 x 9.6 inches; 16,8 x 4,1 x 24,4 cm
Still known to millions only as the author of the "The Lottery," Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) remains curiously absent from the American literary canon. A genius of literary suspense, Jackson plumbed the cultural anxiety of postwar America better than anyone. Now, biographer Ruth Franklin reveals the tumultuous life and inner darkness of the author behind such classics as "The Haunting of Hill House" and "We Have Always Lived in the Castle". Placing Jackson within an American Gothic tradition of Hawthorne and Poe, Franklin demonstrates how her unique contribution to this genre came from her focus on "domestic horror" drawn from an era hostile to women. Based on a wealth of previously undiscovered correspondence and dozens of new interviews, Shirley Jackson, with its exploration of astonishing talent shaped by a damaged childhood and a troubled marriage to literary critic Stanley Hyman, becomes the definitive biography of a generational avatar and an American literary giant.
Ruth Franklin is a book critic and frequent contributor to The New Yorker, Harper's, and many other publications. A recipient of a New York Public Library Cullman Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship, she lives in Brooklyn, New York.
"Not just a terrific biography, but a remarkable act of reclamation: if there was ever a great writer of the twentieth century who fell victim to 'How to Dismiss Women's Fiction,' it was Shirley Jackson. What 'A Rather Haunted Life' gives us is a way of reading Jackson and her work that threads her into the weave of the world of words, as a writer and as a woman, rather than excludes her as an anomaly. She was an anomaly, of course, because she was so smart and brave and glorious a writer and storyteller, because she was better at what she did, and had more range, that anyone else writing at the time. Ruth Franklin is the biographer Jackson needed: she tells the story of the author in a way that made me want to reread every word Jackson ever wrote." - Neil Gaiman
"A perfect marriage of biographer and subject: Ruth Franklin's portrait of Shirley Jackson restores to her rightful place a writer of considerable significance, and draws a rich intellectual portrait of the age." - Claire Messud, author of 'The Woman Upstairs'
"Ruth Franklin has written the ideal biography of a figure long and unjustly neglected in the history of twentieth-century American literature. By restoring Shirley Jackson to her proper stature as one of our great writers, Franklin has in a stroke revised the canon. As biography, it's an exemplary performance: shrewd, sympathetic, and sophisticated in its critical judgments. This isn't the biography of Shirley Jackson for our time: it's the biography for all time." - James Atlas, author of 'Bellow: A Biography'
"Franklin's biography takes us beyond the chilling stories that made Shirley Jackson's name into the dilemmas of a women writer in the 1950s and '60s, struggling to make a career between the pressures of childcare, domesticity, and her own demons. It's a very modern story, and a terrific read." - Mary Beard, author of 'SPQR'
"With her account of emblematically American literary life, Ruth Franklin reminds us that her subject was fare more than the writer of classy ghost stories. On the contrary, Shirley Jackson was the harbinger of profound upheavals both societal and literary. This is a brilliant biography on every level, but it is especially astute on Jackson's ground- and genre-breaking work, which I will now reread immediately." - Tom Bissel, author of 'Apostle'
"A biography that is both historically engaging and pressingly relevant, Ruth Franklin's absorbing book not only feelingly creates a portrait of Shirley Jackson the writer but also provides a stirring sense of what it was like to navigate (and sometimes circumvent) the strictures of American society as a wife, mother, artist, and woman." - Meg Wolitzer, author of 'The Interestings'
Still known to millions primarily as the author of the "The Lottery," Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) has been curiously absent from the mainstream American literary canon. A genius of literary suspense and psychological horror, Jackson plumbed the cultural anxiety of post-war America more deeply than anyone. Now, biographer Ruth Franklin reveals the tumultuous life and inner darkness of the author of such classics as "The Haunting of Hill House" and "We Have Always Lived in the Castle."
Placing Jackson within an American Gothic tradition that stretches back to Hawthorne and Poe, Franklin demonstrates how her unique contribution to this genre came from her focus on "domestic horror." Almost two decades before "The Feminine Mystique" ignited the women's movement, Jackson's stories and nonfiction chronicles were already exploring the exploitation and the desperate isolation of women, particularly married women, in American society. Franklin's portrait of Jackson gives us "a Way of reading Jackson and her work that threads her into the weave of the world of words, as a writer and as a woman, rather than excludes her as an anomaly" - Neil Gaiman
The increasingly prescient Jackson emerges as a ferociously talented, determined, and prodigiously creative writer in a time when it was unusal for a women to have both a family and a profession. A mother of four and the wife of the prominent New Yorker critic and academic Stanley Edgar Hyman, Jackson lived a seemingly bucolic life in the New England town of North Bennington, Vermont. Yet, much like her stories, which channeled the occult while exploring the claustrophobia of marriage and motherhood, Jackson's creative ascent was haunted by a darker side. As her career progressed, her marriage became more tenuous, the anxiety mounted, and she became addicted to amphetamines and tranquilizers. In sobering detail, Franklin examines the psychological effects of Jackson's California upbringing, in the shadow of hypercritical mother, on her relationship with her husband, juxtaposing Hyman's infidelities, domineering behavior, and professional jealousy with his unerring devotion to Jackson's fiction, which he was convinced was among the most brilliant he had ever encountered.
Based on a wealth of previously undiscovered correspondence and dozens of new interviews, Shirley Jackson — an exploration of astonishing talent shaped by a damaging childhood and turbulent marriage — becomes the definitive biography of a generational avatar and an American literary giant.
Ruth Franklin is a book critic and frequent contributor to The New Worker, Harper's, and many other publications. A recipient of a New York Public Library Cullman Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship, she lives in Brooklyn, New York.
The working title was "The Haunted House".
The movie rights to [The Haunting of] Hill House were sold for the sum of $67,500.
Inspirations for Hill House:
"Whose hand was I holding?" is the "key line" of the novel, according to Jackson's notes.
Now that Jackson had found her house, she needed ghosts. She consulted a number of well-known historical accounts of haunted houses: the report of John Crichton-Stuart, who led a team of psychical researchers to investigate Ballechin House in Scotland in the late 1890s, as well as the book An Adventure, in which Charlotte Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain, two British women on a European vacation, describe their uncanny experience of stumbling on a scene from the past while visiting the Petit Trianon, Madame du Barry's house at Versailles. An episode late in [The Haunting of] Hill House, in which Eleanor and Theodora unexpectedly come upon a group of people — perhaps ghosts — picnicking in the grounds behind the house, shows the influence of their chronicle, as does Jackson's use of the name Eleanor, found nowhere else in her work, for her main character. In her notes for the novel, Jackson refers to An Adventure as "one of the greatest ghost stories of all time."
Early drafts demonstrate that marriage was crucial to Shirley's vision of the novel from the start. In one version, the sister of Erica, the protagonist (later to be named Eleanor), wants to set her up with a man. "Carrie wanted me to get married, for some inscrutable reason," Erica says. "Perhaps she found the married state so excruciatingly disagreeable herself that it was the only thing bad enough she could think of to do to me." To be married, Shirley always feared, was to lose her sense of self, to disintegrate — precisely what happens to Eleanor in the grip of the house.
In [The Haunting of] Hill House, which appeared in 1959, Jackson gathered powerfully all the objects of her longtime obsession: an unhappy, unmarried woman with a secret trauma; the simultaneous longing for a mother's love and fear of its control; the uncertain legacies handed down by previous generations; and finally, the supernatural as a representation of the deepest psychic fears and desires.
"The house is the haunting (can never be un-haunted)," Jackson wrote in her notes for the novel; on another page, she wrote, "The house is Eleanor." Jackson clearly intended the external signs of haunting to be interpreted as manifestations of Eleanor's troubled psyche; over and over, in her notes and lectures about the book, she states that she does not believe in ghosts.
In an early version of the novel, the spirit voice that the protagonist hears whispers to her to go away. But at some point in the writing process, Jackson realized that staying in Hill House was more frightening than leaving it.
For each character in a story or novel, she explains, she uses one basic image or set of images that the reader will associate with the character. For Eleanor, there are five:
The five symbols will recur throughout the novel, and each time they do, Jackson explains, they remind the reader of Eleanor's essential loneliness and homelessness. They become "artificially loaded words" that, deployed correctly, have a powerful impact.
[The Haunting of] Hill House was a financial and critical triumph. A month before the publication date of October 16, 1959 — appropriately close to Halloween — Viking ran an unusual announcement in The New York Times, generating advance sales of about eight thousand copies and considerable buzz.
Though [The Haunting of] Hill House did not make the best-seller lists, it sold far better than any of Jackson's previous novels — around 12,000 copies for the hardcover edition in the first six months. For a condensed version, Reader's Digest offered $35,000, split between Jackson and Viking, which guaranteed another 25,000 copies in print.
Jackson said publicly that she was pleased with the adaptation. "When I saw it, I was terrified. I couldn't believe that I had written this," she told a reporter. In private, she bemoaned the changes made to the plot, but said the house — the real star of the movie, anyway — was wonderful.
[These are very short excerpts of the book. Buy it to read it in its full length]