25 July 2017 | HotToastyRag
I loved the opening shot of the film. The camera is placed on the second floor of a grand house, overlooking the staircase and foyer. The opening credits roll, and as they taper off, there's a knock at the door. The butler answers, then retreats through the foyer to the door of the drawing room and announces the visitor to the lady of the house. The scene is perfectly framed; the audience is eavesdropping, desperately wants to know more about "the woman in the hall", and there's an overall sense of dread in the air.
Ursula Jeans is dressed in rags, as is her daughter. She tells the wealthy woman in the house a sob story about how her husband abandoned her and her children, and her youngest daughter is ill, and she doesn't have enough money. . . The wealthy woman believes her, writes her a check, and sends her on her way. The woman and the daughter go home, and the woman announces to her friend how successful her workday was. It's all a scam, and her sole source of income.
The story continues, with many twists and turns, and it's fascinating. Ursula Jeans gives an excellent performance in a perfect Joan Crawford role. She's icy, deceitful, but something burns beneath it all. . . Jean Simmons is gorgeous and troubled, a characterization she perfected in the previous year's Great Expectations. And it was thrilling to see Cecil Parker in a rare romantic role! This is a great movie with an interesting story that shows the hurts children carry with them as they grow up. The Woman in the Hall is very exciting and I highly recommend you watch it with a bunch of your friends on the next stormy weekend!