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The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (22-Sep-1960)

Director: Delbert Mann

Writers: Harriet Frank, Jr.; Irving Ravetch

From a play by: William Inge

Keywords: Drama

NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Eve Arden
Actor
30-Apr-1908 12-Nov-1990 The Eve Arden Show
Shirley Knight
Actor
5-Jul-1936   Sweet Bird of Youth
Angela Lansbury
Actor
16-Oct-1925   Murder She Wrote
Dorothy McGuire
Actor
14-Jun-1916 13-Sep-2001 A Summer Place
Robert Preston
Actor
8-Jun-1918 21-Mar-1987 The Music Man

CAST

Robert Preston   ...   Rubin Flood
Dorothy McGuire   ...   Cora Flood
Eve Arden   ...   Lottie Lacey
Angela Lansbury   ...   Mavis Pruitt (beauty parlor)
Shirley Knight   ...   Reenie Flood
Lee Kinsolving   ...   Sammy Golden
Frank Overton   ...   Morris Lacey
Robert Eyer   ...   Sonny Flood
Penny Parker   ...   Flirt Conroy
Ken Lynch   ...   Harry Ralston

REVIEWS

Review by Alice Pickett (posted on 20-Sep-2005)

I have only seen this movie once and it remains my personal quest to revisit the feeling. The film's appeal was a combination of the historical setting, a transition from the horse to the car, and the never ending mystery as to what keeps love alive. I was struck by the fact that even in the liberated 1960's (wow) we did not invent the mystique. The answer to the mystery was not explained, but implied as the beautiful Margaret O'Brien carefully let down her hair. Eve Arden whose role as the memorable, but irritating aunt everyone remembers cannot be replaced by anyone in the modern screen. Robert Preston is one of my favorite actors. He cannot play a part poorly nor can Angela Landsbury. What is the obstacle to this movie being offered in DVD? I have dreamed of having it as a surprise for my husband who also loves it. We each saw the movie before we married 31 years ago. Can anyone help or do I have to buy this movie?


Review by David M. Freedman MD (posted on 27-May-2007)

I was fortunate enough to actually video tape this film when it was shown in the 1980's on Channel 5 in Boston. I lost about 5 seconds of it when the young man crashed his car but I got all of it commercial free. It was never shown again. That was when they showed movies using real film on TV. I also got GIGOT and THE SEARCH(a post wwII film), neither of which I have ever seen as VHS or DVD releases. I guess I consider myself lucky to have the Dark a the top of the Stairs as a part of my collection I'll have to find someone with an analog DVD recorder to convert it. I first saw the film when it was released and it's one of the most heart warming films ever made. It is a truly believable slice of Americana. I also can't understand why a great classic like that isn't released when there are thousands of very mediocre films out there, and they must be bad because you can buy them for only a few bucks now.


Review by Inge (posted on 27-Feb-2005)

The Dark at the Top of the Stairs is a movie that will haunt you long after you've gone on to something else. I've seen this movie twice in my life, once as a teenager and once while in my twenties. I'd find my thoughts turning back to this movie when I was doing dishes, lying in bed, watching TV, or other quiet times. I'd love to be able to get it on DVD but it isn't available at this time.

Robert Preston and Dorothy McGuire play a struggling couple in the early 1920's. They struggle with their marriage, their children, money, jobs, relatives, everything that we still struggle with today. Maybe that is why this movie seems timeless. Another on-going theme in this movie is the struggle of one of the main characters with bigotry.

The characters are real, they are believable. The plot is well paced, no long boring lags here. The dialog especially with Preston helps to keep the film going at a good step. You don't want to miss this film, it's a classic. It was also a hit broadway play. I don't know why it hasn't been released to VHS or DVD yet!


Review by anonymous (posted on 25-Apr-2006)

I saw this film about 15 years ago, and I have been searching for it on VHS or DVD since. I agree with the comments regarding how long this movie sticks with you. I can still recall most of the movie vividly, and it's been years (and I have a poor memory). I even bought a picture, a still from the film, of Robert Preston that I discovered on the internet. The movie is simply amazing. I personally found Preston brilliant. His character is like "The Music Man falls to earth, hitting a few branches on the way down." All of the characters in this movie were so real and struggled with such mundane problems that you really were enthralled by it. It's simply unforgivable that this movie hasn't been released to DVD. With all the pure trash on DVD, why are they waiting to release this movie?


Review by anonymous (posted on 20-Jan-2007)

I have been soo longing to see this movie again. When I was a youngster, I watched this movie every single time I could. I use to watch the TV guide repeatedly just to find this movie when it was on. I cried every time I ever watched it..it was a movie with such great impact and truth of a struggling family and filled with emotions. With the exception of Gone With The Wind, this is truly my personal favorite! I would love to have it at least aired again so I could have my children also watch this movie that I have so many years told them of my love for it. At this point, I don't even know if my husband or children know it ever existed. We see so many old classics on the television but never this one...why is that?


Review by moviebuff (posted on 31-May-2005)

I love this movie and miss seeing it on television. It's a wonderful story about coming of age, prejudice, marriage and the coming of the automobile. This movie draws you into the story and you really care about the characters. Excellent acting from the entire cast. Please release it on DVD.


Review by Mark (posted on 21-May-2007)

A true classic and even better because it is so under-appreciated. Why it is not available on DVD or VHS is amazing. Once in a while an actor finds a role that IS that actor, his personal stamp is so indelible no one else can ever play that part again without illiciting giggles: Lancaster as Elmer Gantry, Gable as Rhett Butler and Preston as Rueben Flood in "Dark". If for no other reason his performance rates this a "must see". The themes are mature, haunting, subtle and bitter sweet. The late-night talk Preston has with his daughter is as sweet, true and timeless a father-daughter monet as there is on te screen. Eve Arden ambushes you and amazes you with her performance. Oh yes, it doesn't hurt that the film score is evocative and gets under your skin. They made movies out of all of William Inge's plays and each one as a winner. "Dark" is no exception.


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