The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1960)


“Sonny. Why are you so afraid of the dark?” – Cora

“I don’t know… maybe it’s because you can’t see what’s in front of you. Might be something bad.” – Sonny

Number of Times Seen – 1 (23 May 2019)

Brief Synopsis – In the 1920, a traveling salesman gets fired from his job when the business closes and must deal with issues within his family as he tries to secretly find a new job before anyone finds out.

My Take on it – This is another great example of a film that I knew absolutely nothing about before coming across the title in my search for films to watch that feature Oscar nominated performances that I are so grateful to have stumbled across.

This is an excellent film that is able to work on so many different levels as it slowly draws us in closer and closer.

This film is based on a play written by William Inge that came out two years before they made this.

It’s quite enjoyable to watch largely due to the way that the characters are developed because we get to find ways to care about them and everything that happens along the way.

The dialogue is exquisitely written and allows them to deal with some very adult issues by using lots of wordplay and euphemisms that still get everything across properly despite the censors of the time doing their best to keep things as pure sounding as possible.

The cast of this film is amazing and Robert Preston is perfectly chosen for the lead role since its extremely easy to sympathize with him and with the various problems he s trying to overcome in the story.

The rest of the cast is also great and the very talented Dorothy McGuire, Eve Arden, Angela Landsbury, Shirley Knight and Lee Kinsolving all are able to give us characters that feel so real and genuine.

Knight was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Preston and McGuire’s daughter who tries to find her place in the world when she comes of age and begins seeking a way to connect to young men with the hope of falling in love.

Bottom Line – Excellent film that works on so many levels. This film is based on a play of the same name written by William Inge and it is so enjoyable to watch because the characters are all developed quite well and the story makes us care so much about them along the way. The dialogue is superbly written and they find a way to deal with some very adult issues by using euphemisms and other forms of word play due to the needs to get past the censors of the time.  The cast is amazing here and Preston is the perfect choice for the lead role an he can easily sympathize with all that he is going through. The supporting cast is also quite talented with Maguire, Arden, Landsbury, Knight and Kinsolving all giving great performances here.  Knight was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her work here as the troubled daughter who yearns to find a way to start dating and find the right man for herself. Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – When asked which of her movies stands out to her, Angela Lansbury cited this film, saying, “That’s one I felt we did a good job with, one that didn’t get the attention it deserved.” (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy (9/10)

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3 thoughts on “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1960)

  1. A solid example of what plays were like at the time. Solid, well done, but pales in comparison to O’Neill and Williams, but satisfying. Inge probably did his best work with Splendor in the Grass. Good acting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Did They Get it Right? – Best Supporting Actress – Oscars 1960 | MovieRob

  3. Pingback: MovieRob Monthly Roundup – May 2019 | MovieRob

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