Sunday, 25 August 2013

RIP Julie Harris, Farewell Eleanor Lance

I was sad to learn that Julie Harris, a veteran star of many films and Broadway shows, has died at the age of 87. For fans of supernatural fiction her greatest role was that of Eleanor Lance in The Haunting (1963), the first and by far the best cinema adaptation of Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting of Hill House (1957). Eleanor, or Nell, is an interesting example of a traditional Gothic heroine in a modern ghost story. Naive and confused, she falls victim to Hill House but at the same it is implicit that she is - to some extent - helping to trigger or amplify some of the strange phenomena that assail the ghost hunters. The director, Robert Wise, made considerable demands on Julie Harris, and I think she delivered the goods, not least in scenes involving the character's unspoken thoughts. Here is the second spookiest scene from the film:

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