The William Inge play on which the picture is based is a poignant study of an Oklahoma family torn by internal conflicts. Its relationships are barred with perception and penetration, and the problems of the parents, described in frank terms but handled in good taste, center on the bed and the activities which do, or more accurately, do not, take place in it.

The William Inge play on which the picture is based is a poignant study of an Oklahoma family torn by internal conflicts. Its relationships are barred with perception and penetration, and the problems of the parents, described in frank terms but handled in good taste, center on the bed and the activities which do, or more accurately, do not, take place in it.

The film is well cast and persuasively acted. Its chief cast value lies in Robert Preston, whose newly-won fame via The Music Man can be used to spur boxoffice for the WB picture. Easily detectable is the similarity in manner and speech between his Harold Hill of The Music Man and Robin Flood of Dark. Each is a high-powered salesman – one flamboyant, the other serious. But there’s a strength and an independence that’s the same.

Dorothy McGuire is tops as the mother caught between devotion to her children and the knowledge she must sever the cord. Eve Arden is convincing and highly effective as the sister, performing with spirit and proving she could have done even more with her big scene if given the chance. Angela Lansbury plays one of her better and more sympathetic roles as the woman who wants Robin, and she fills it well. Shirley Knight is fine as the daughter.

1960: Nomination: Best Supp. Actress (Shirley Knight)

The Dark at the Top of the Stairs

Production

Warner. Director Delbert Mann; Producer Michael Garrison; Screenplay Harriet Frank Jr, Irving Ravetch; Camera Harry Stradling Sr; Editor Folmar Blangsted; Music Max Steiner; Art Director Leo K. Kuter

Crew

(Color) Extract of a review from 1960. Running time: 123 MIN.

With

Robert Preston Dorothy McGuire Eve Arden Angela Lansbury Shirley Knight Lee Kinsolving
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