Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Spiral Staircase
This thriller is set in early 19th century New England, about a serial killer on the loose, murdering young disabled women in the community. The killer's next apparent victim is Helen (McGuire), a mute girl who works as a live-in servant for a wealthy old bedridden woman Mrs. Warren (Barrymore). Kent Smith plays Dr. Parry, a man who knows the real reason for Helen's loss of speech and wants to help Helen get her voice back.
Ethel Barrymore was nominated for an Academy Award, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, for her role. Screenplay by Mel Dinelli. The film is based on a novel by Ethel Lina White, Some Must Watch, in which the heroine was crippled rather than mute. The novel was first adapted into a radio production, starring Helen Hayes.
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