Ladies in Retirement
Directed by Charles Vidor
Written by Garrett Fort and Reginald Denham based on a play by Denham and Edward Percy
Columbia Pictures Corporation
First viewing/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment DVD
This is a nice creepy story with some excellent female character performances.
Ellen Creed (Ida Lupino) works as a housekeeper/companion for retired actress Leonora Fisk. Ellen has been responsible all her life for her two dotty sisters, Emily (Elsa Lanchester) and Louisa. Emily, in particular, is out of control. She collects trash to “tidy up the moors” and deposits it all over the house. She also does not like anyone to tell her what to do. Louisa is more gentle and sweet in her madness.
Emily gets a letter from London saying that if she does not remove her sisters from the home where they are staying the landlady will call the police. She asks Leonora to let them visit for a few days but tells her sisters they will stay there always. Leonora rapidly gets fed up and Emily, supposedly the “sane” one, takes drastic action to protect them.
Then distant relative Albert Feather (Louis Hayward) comes to get bailed out of an embezzling offense. After seducing the housemaid (Evelyn Keyes), he rapidly figures out a way to wrap Ellen around his little finger.
This thriller had me on the edge of my seat by the end. Louis Hayward is so deliciously vile that the viewer doesn’t know just what he will resort to. Ida Lupino is quite understated in comparison. Elsa Lanchester is, as always, a standout. Recommended for those in the mood for a rather dark period piece, with a little comedy from the mad sisters.
Ladies in Retirement was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Black-and-White and for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture.
For clips on TCM go here: http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/480270/Ladies-In-Retirement-Movie-Clip-My-Treasures.html