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Film / Return to Glennascaul

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Return to Glennascaul is a 1951 short film (22 minutes) directed by Hilton Edwards.

It stars Orson Welles as...Orson Welles. Welles, who also narrates, starts the story off on the set of what became his famous 1951 film adaptation of Othello. After production shuts down for the day Welles leaves the set and starts driving home along a lonely country road. He sees a stranded motorist, one Sean Merriman (Michael Laurence), and offers him a ride.

As they drive down the road Merriman tells Welles a strange story. Sometime not too long ago, Merriman picked up two female hitchhikers at the exact same crossroads where Welles picked him up. The two women, Mrs. Campbell and her daughter Lucy, ask for a ride back to their house, called "Glennauscaul" (Gaelic for "glen of the shadows"). They invite him in and he has a drink in their pleasant, tastefully decorated parlor, but something seems off about the women. The man takes his leave, realizes as he's starting to drive away that he forgot his cigarette case, and doubles back—only to find the house very different.

Edwards, Laurence, and producer Micheál MacLiammóir were all cast members of Welles' Othello who came up with an idea for a short film and got Orson Welles to help them make it during production breaks.


  • Abandoned Area: Merriman goes back to the house and finds dust, litter, a complete absence of furniture, and all the signs indicating that no one has lived there in many years.
  • As Himself: Orson Welles appears as a friendly but easily spooked Orson Welles.
  • Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts: Merriman eventually finds out that the young woman and her middle-aged mother actually lived to be 60 and 80, respectively, and have been dead for years. They seem to want him to live in some world of the dead with them.
  • Call-Back: After Welles drops Merriman off, Merriman invites him in for "a cup of tea or something stronger", which is exactly what the women said to Merriman in his story. An unnerved Welles drives off in a hurry.
  • Cat Scare: As he is making his way back up the overgrown driveway, Merriman is startled by a clattering noise. It turns out to be a cat disturbing a tin can.
  • Dutch Angle: Used for a shot of Merriman when he's startled to see his fresh footprints in the thick dust all over the floor of the parlor.
  • Flashback Effects: Uses the hoary old shimmer effect to signal going into and out of Merriman's flashback.
  • Framing Device: Welles picking up Merriman, which allows Merriman to tell his own spooky hitchhiking story.
  • Match Cut: The downward shimmer effect so associated with flashbacks dissolves back to the present, and a Match Cut to Welles wiping down the inside of his windshield.
  • Narrator: Welles both narrates the framing device and the main story.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Both Mrs. Campbell and Lucy are completely tactile and visual and able to interact with Merriman.