Ladies in Retirement (1941)

Genres - Mystery, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama  |   Release Date - Sep 18, 1941 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 91 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

A thriller that's a little too "by-the-numbers" for its own good (not to mention a little too dated), Ladies in Retirement also suffers from being entirely too stagebound. While the house in which virtually the entire film is shot is appropriately atmospheric and very well designed, it still lacks sufficient visual variety. Director Charles Vidor may have intended to turn this handicap into a virtue by creating a sense of claustrophia that added to the story's impact; instead, all it does is make the movie somewhat numbing visually (this in spite of some well-chosen angles and atmospheric shots along the way). Vidor is also not helped by the script, which is very well crafted but a bit obvious and too stilted in its dialogue. Fortunately, Ladies is very well cast, with the batty aunts of Elsa Lanchester and Edith Barrett battling it out for top honors. Ida Lupino is equally impressive, turning in a well modulated performance that hits all the right notes. Only Louis Hayward, with a dreadful attempt at an English accent, falls short of the mark. Adequate but nothing more, Ladies is the kind of film that has been done better many times.