Please note that these screencaps are from an alternate source and do not necessarily reflect the Blu-ray presentation.
*/**** Image B+ Sound A Extras A+
starring Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., John Houseman
screenplay by Lawrence D. Cohen, based on the terrifying best-selling novel by Peter Straub
directed by John Irvin
by Walter Chaw Jack Cardiff's reputation as a world-class cinematographer began, really, with the Archers, progressed through Hitchcock's underestimated, and gorgeous, Under Capricorn (every inch as beautiful a film as Powell and Pressburger's The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, and A Matter of Life and Death), and was maintained in collaborations with the likes of John Huston, Joe Mankiewicz, King Vidor, and Henry Hathaway. He did two films with John Irvin: the great Dogs of War, and this, 1981's seedy, singularly unpleasant Ghost Story, which represents the final screen appearances of Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and Melvyn Douglas. I think the biggest disappointment of the film is that it doesn't look better, given Cardiff's behind the camera. In fact, it looks like a TV movie (acts like one, too, as it happens); the possibilities of having Cardiff lens a classic ghost story in the gothic style are delicious and, until the last ten minutes or so, largely frustrated. Blame the picture's settings, various brightly-lit exteriors and contemporary environments (office buildings, college campuses)--even when the movie is in a grand old house, our aged heroes' Chow-duh Society huddled together in pools of shadow, scaring each other with spooky stories, the joke seems to be that someone is always turning on the lights.