The Uninvited (starring Ray Milland) is one of those black and white movies I saw on a local TV channel in Richmond when I was in high school. I consumed movies pretty uncritically back then and as a result, I can keep up my end of the conversation whenever talk turns to vintage films, as it often does in my circle of friends. (I know. We all need a life.)
My father loved movies more than any video store geek I ever met, but he preferred westerns to horror, so most nights when the creature-feature came on, I was left alone in the living room to watch while the rest of the family slept upstairs.
The living room had two French doors that opened onto a porch, and at night, they reflected ghostly images that could really freak you out after a while. And the house was old, with creepy creaky noises every time the furnace kicked on or the radiators heated up or someone got up and went to the bathroom.
But the living room also had a very comfy couch, just right for sharing with the family cat, an aloof black puffball who fed the anti-cat fervor of all who met him. (The cat tolerated the family but only loved my sister, but when it was chilly, he was a slut and would cozy up to the nearest warm body.)
The first time I saw Nightmare on Elm Street, I was lying on the couch in the living room, with the family's phone on an end table by my feet. I think if the phone had rung, I'd have jumped out of my skin. (BTW, I never saw the remake with Jackie Earle Haley, an actor I really like. Did anyone? How was it?)
The Uninvited is a ghost story and has a classic setup. A composer and his sister discover that the reason the gothic seaside manor they've just bought was so cheap is that it's haunted. I remember being impressed with the special effects, which were probably state of the art for 1944. The ghosts looked real to me.
Alan Napier, who is fondly remembered by baby boomers as Alfred the butler on the Batman television series was in the cast; as was Cornelia Otis Skinner, an actress, playwright and humorist whose first novel, Our Hearts Were Young and Gay is an absolutely hilarious account of two girlfriends on a grand tour of Europe after their graduation from college.
The movie was written by Dodie Smith, who was also a novelist. She wrote the children's book 101 Dalmations that formed the basis of the wildly successful Disney movie of the same name.
The movie was directed by Lewis Allen who, the next year, directed Unseen from a screenplay by Raymond Chandler. He went on to direct a lot of episodic television (Bonanza, Big Valley, Little House on the Prairie.)
This movie is low-key and would make a perfect pairing for the more intense Haunting.