The Book and the Movie: The Spiral Staircase / Some Must Watch | Ethel Lina White, 1933 / Robert Siodmak, 1946



"For some must watch, while some must sleep: 
So runs the world away." 
William Shakespeare, Hamlet



"The wind shrieked, as though a flock of witches sailed overhead, racing the moon, which spun through the torn clouds like a silver cannonball, shot into space. Down in the basement, a flickering candle in her hand, she groped amid the mice, the spiders, and the shadows. These shadows shifted before her, sliding along the pale-washed wall, as though to lead the way. Whenever she entered an office, they crouched on the other side of the door, waiting for her. She was nerved up to meet an attack which did not come, but which lurked just around the corner. It was perpetual postponement, which drew her on, deeper and deeper, into the labyrinth.”

Ethel Lina White, The Spiral Staircase / Some Must Watch (1933)



The Spiral Staircase, 1946 directed by Robert Siodmak, from a screenplay by Mel Dinelli based on Ethel Lina White's novel 
Some Must Watch (1933). The novel was adapted for a radio production starring Helen Hayes before reaching the screen.

The close-ups of the killer's eyes actually show those of director Robert Siodmak

"Just imagine the horror of seeing a friendly, familiar face—like my own—
suddenly change into an unfamiliar mask—with murder glaring out of its eyes?"
Frédéric Chopin -Waltz Op. 34 No. 2 in A minor   (Played during the scene at the silent movie theater)
"At the back of her mind, something was worrying her...
Something forgotten--or overlooked."
"Like a rocket, shooting up through the darkness of her mind, and breaking 
into a cluster of stars, a host of questions splashed and spattered her brain."

Ethel Lina White, The Spiral Staircase / Some Must Watch (1933)

The Spiral Staircase (1945) 
Director: Robert Siodmak 
Writers: Mel Dinelli (screenplay), Ethel Lina White (novel) 
Stars: Dorothy McGuire, George Brent, Ethel Barrymore

Robert Siodmak on the set of The Spiral Staircase, 1946

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