Thoroughly enjoyable ghost story without any special effects unless you count the make up on James Mason and Barbara Mullen to make them look forty years older. An elderly couple buys a house in the English countryside that may be haunted. Nothing scary just a good story with good acting from all concerned.
The year is 1900. Mr.Henry Smedhurst (James Mason) has retired from the drapery business. He and his wife Emilie (Barbara Mullen) buy Bellingham House. They get it for a real low price. The place has been vacant for forty years. They hire servants and one day they feel like a cup of tea. They hear a whistle come from the speaking tube. Henry goes to call for their maid Sarah (Dulcie Gray). He doesn’t get an answer except to hear a faraway voice. Emilie listens and says a woman is asking, Send for Dr.Marsham.” They fluff it off.
Emilie hires a companion. She’s the young Annette Allenby (Margaret Lockwood). The next move is to see if they can be accepted by the local society. They invite Major Manning Tutthorn and his wife along with their nephew Dr.Robert.Selbie. He’ll be someone Annette can talk to.
It may take a bit for the older people to get used to each other but Robert and Annette don’t need any time at all. At dinner Mrs.Tutthorn tells the story of the house. The owner,Mr.Harkness, was very possessive of his daughter Elizabeth. She was going to get married and he wasn’t having that. Due to his pressure she became an invalid. He dies and leaves his money to her. If something happens to her the housekeeper and her husband get the money. Elizabeth dies of an accidental overdose. Mr.Tuttenorn thinks it was murder.
Annette starts playing the piano…badly. Then all of a sudden she sounds like a pro. She thinks she was taken over. Some weeks later a garden party is held to announce Annette and Robert’s engagement. A thunderstorm sends everyone home early. The storm is still happening at midnight. Annette wakes up and hears the piano. It’s the same piece she played when she thought she was being taken over. She goes downstairs to investigate. No one there. Then she hears voices arguing. She runs upstairs and faints.
George the gardener is digging up the waste pit. Sarah asks him why. He says Annette ordered him to. He finds a gold locket and Sarah takes it inside. Later Henry finds that it has been cleaned and polished. Everyone denies doing it. He gives it to Annette. She starts acting stranger.
Henry and Robert go into town and confront the real estate agent who sold him the house. He swears it’s not haunted but even his father couldn’t sell the place. In a pub they meet the local newspaper editor and publisher. He says he’s been keeping the ghost story alive all these years so the real estate company would keep advertising. Then he gives them some more history.
Back at the house Annette is getting worse and keeps mumbling about Dr.Marsham. Emilie wants Henry to promise that if anything happens to Annette and herself that he’ll have the house demolished. Henry says he’s going to fight it. Nothing is going to scare him away. Now Annette is fully possessed and fading fast.
This is a real good one to settle in with and has somehow fallen through the cracks over the years. If you like haunted house stories not played for laughs or making the cast look foolish then this is what you’re looking for.