The new release called “The Uninvited,” based on a Korean horror film, reminded me of the unrelated (but very spooky) 1944 movie of the same name, starring one of my favorites, Ray Milland.
The original The Uninvited is the story of a brother and sister (Milland and “The Philadelphia Story’s” Ruth Hussey) who move into a mysterious house on the English coast. A series of eerie clues lead them to a story involving a woman who once lived in the house and her young daughter Stella (Gail Russell), now grown up, who still lives nearby.
This is not a horror film but a psychological drama with mystery, romance, and ghosts. When I first saw it as a teenager, I was especially intrigued because it had a rare screen appearance by stage actress Cornelia Otis Skinner, co-author of a book I loved, Our Hearts Were Young And Gay: An Unforgettable Comic Chronicle of Innocents Abroad in the 1920s. It also introduced a song that has become a standard, “Stella by Starlight.”
I watched it again recently and found it still one of my very favorite ghost stories, with appealing characters and very satisfying conclusions to both the romance and the mystery. Fans of “Rebecca” will love this one, so if you’re looking for a good, old-fashioned, non-gory ghost story, this is one of the best.
Many thanks to Liza Levenson and Meredith Stone of the Bannockburn Elementary School for hosting me in the 4th grade yesterday! I loved talking to your students about movies.
Dr. Ted Baehr, founder of the Movieguide® family guide to movies and entertainment, has announced in a Hollywood online press conference the nominees for the $100,000 Epiphany Prize for Most Inspiring Movie of 2008 and the $100,000 Epiphany Prize for Most Inspiring TV program of 2008, which are sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation.
The Epiphany Prize for Movie Nominees (in alphabetical order) are The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Fireproof, Grand Torino, Henry Poole is Here, and Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys. The Epiphany Prize for Television Nominees (in alphabetical order) are The Christmas Choir, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, John Adams, and The Medal: Celebrating Our Nation’s Highest Honor.
The 10 Best Film Nominees for Families (in alphabetical order) are Bolt, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Fireproof, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Nim’s Island, The Tale of Despereux, and Wall-E. The 10 Best Film Nominees for Mature Audiences (in alphabetical order) are Changeling, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Grand Torino, Henry Poole is Here, Iron Man, The Longshots, Marley & Me, Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys, and Valkyrie.
If you see this movie, stay through the end credits to watch an interview with co-star Bernie Mac, who died not long after filming was completed. It is a better reminder of his gifts than the movie itself, a formulaic road trip that relies primarily on insults and pratfalls.
Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac play Hinds and Henderson, once part of a popular 60’s soul group. But when Marcus, their lead singer (real-life soul singer John Legend), decides to go solo, they are unable to sustain performing careers. Henderson develops a successful car wash business and Hinds ends up in jail.
Marcus goes on to become a superstar, and when he dies, VH1 organizes a tribute concert at the Apollo and invites Hinds and Henderson to perform. Henderson does not fly, so they get in Hinds’ convertible and drive across the country, fighting pretty much full-time and stopping along the way to revisit some memories and try out their act. It’s “The Sunshine Boys” with less shtick and more Viagra jokes.
Director Malcolm D. Lee (the hilarious “Undercover Brother” and the charming “Roll Bounce” but also the terrible “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins”) has a strong sense of structure and timing but too many of the jokes rely on bad language and gratuitously outrageous behavior. Jennifer Coolidge (“Best in Show,” “American Pie”) is wasted as a voracious one-night stand and Sean Hayes (“Will and Grace”) is wasted in an under-written role as the producer of the VH1 special. There are pointless detours for a stupid and abusive grille-toothed boyfriend of a young woman befriended by the duo, a doofus intern assigned to them by the producer, and an arrest just as they are about to arrive at the Apollo. But Jackson and Mac are clearly enjoying themselves, and their moments together manage to inject some fun into the story and even a little bit of soul.