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The Haunting (1963 film): Wikis


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For the remake, see The Haunting (1999 film).
The Haunting

The Haunting film poster
Directed by Robert Wise
Produced by Robert Wise
Written by Novel:
Shirley Jackson
Nelson Gidding
Starring Julie Harris
Richard Johnson
Claire Bloom
Russ Tamblyn
Distributed by MGM
Release date(s) September 18, 1963 (U.S.)
Running time 112 min.
Country United States
Language English

The Haunting is a 1963 American horror film directed by Robert Wise and adapted by Nelson Gidding from the novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. It stars Julie Harris as Eleanor, Richard Johnson as Dr. Markway, Russ Tamblyn as Luke, Claire Bloom as Theo, Valentine Dyall and Rosalie Crutchley as Mr. and Mrs. Dudley, and Lois Maxwell as Mrs. Markway. The film centers around the conflict between a team of paranormal investigators and the house in which they spend the night.



Eleanor Lance, Theodora, and Luke Sanderson accompany Dr. John Markway during an investigation into the paranormal. Markway believes that an old mansion with a sinister past called Hill House will provide him with the proof he seeks of the existence of the supernatural. Luke is the next in line to inherit the house, and is volunteered by the current owner to join Markway both as a skeptic and overseer. Eleanor and Theodora are the only responders to an invitation Markway sent out to various people who had come in contact with the supernatural at some point in their lives. After the four meet up in Hill House, strange things begin to happen, most of which seem centered on Eleanor. Eleanor finds that she enjoys the attention the house affords her, and becomes drawn deeper and deeper in by the forces within the house.

Differences between film and novel

The film contains several deviations from the novel, these include:

  • Dr. Montague of the novel becomes Dr. Markway.
  • Dr. Markway appears much younger than the Dr. Montague described in the novel.
  • Eleanor Vance's last name becomes Lance.
  • Theodora introduces herself in the novel as "Just Theo" while in the film she says "Just Theodora."
  • In the film, Eleanor doesn't leave her room after the arrival of Mrs. Montague and begin laughing and knocking on the other's doors, awakening them from their sleep, resulting in the search for her where she is discovered on the spiral staircase in the library.
  • The kitchen and all events which occurred therein, including Mrs. Montague's conversation with Mrs. Dudley, are not present in the film.
  • Dr. Markway rescues Eleanor from the fragile spiral staircase in the Library, whereas Luke does so in the novel.
  • Mrs. Montague is portrayed as an arrogant, flighty mystic in the book, whereas Mrs. Markway is a hard-nosed skeptic who wishes to convince her husband to give up his research and return home.
  • Mrs. Montague doesn't disappear during the course of the novel.
  • Eleanor's confession to Theodora that she is homeless occurs inside Hill House in the film. In the novel, Eleanor reveals this only after she is sitting in her car.
  • Eleanor's ability to "feel" things going on in the house is absent in the film.
  • Eleanor has some affections for Luke in the novel, who appears to favor the company of Theodora. The film version finds Dr. Markway carelessly forgetting to mention that he's married, and consequently Eleanor mistakes his academic interest in her, coupled with his kindness and charm, for genuine affection, which she returns.
  • Dr. Markway has a key to the front gate but Dr. Montague doesn't.
  • No one was to accompany Eleanor during her departure in the novel.
  • In the novel, Theodora moves into Eleanor's room after a message written in blood is found on the wall of Theodora's room. No such event occurs in the film, and Theodora moves into Eleanor's room at Dr. Markway's request.
  • Eleanor does not struggle to regain control of her vehicle in the novel.
  • The novel ends abruptly with Eleanor's implied suicide. The film lingers with the affirmation of Eleanor's death, the reappearance of Mrs. Markway and Dr. Markway's assertion that Hill House is haunted.
  • Mrs. Montague's companion Arthur is not present in the film.



Production of the film began on 1 October 1962 at MGM Borehamwood, England with a budget of $1.5 million. The external shots of the house are of Ettington Hall, near Stratford-upon-Avon (now the Ettington Park Hotel, which has been in the Shirley family since before the Norman Conquest[1]). Wise used infra-red film for exterior shots to emphasise the "striations of the stone" and make it look "more of a monster house". The film was remade in 1999, also titled The Haunting, but with little critical appreciation.


On the Bravo network television show 100 Scariest Movie Moments, The Haunting was listed at eighteenth on the list.

"The Haunting" opened in 1963 to mostly positive reviews, including Pauline Kael's, who praised it as "elegantly sinister... good fun".

The film's stature and following has grown steadily since its original release (Ted Turner's company bought MGM's backlog of classic films in 1986), and is considered by film historians to be perhaps the finest ghost movie in filmdom.

Director Martin Scorsese placed The Haunting on his list of the 11 scariest horror films of all time.[2]


Home video

In 2003, Warner Home Video released it to DVD in its original screen format, including voice-over commentary from its director, screenwriter, and four lead actors.

External links



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