Robert Wise: “I was reading one of the very scary passages — hackles were going up and down my neck — when Nelson Gidding [the screenwriter]...burst through the door to ask me a question. I literally jumped about three feet out of my chair. I said, If it can do that to me sitting and reading, it ought to be something I want to make a picture out of.”
--Source: Robert Wise on his films, Page 44
Director Wise (who was shooting the film in Panavision) called the president of Panavision in search of a wider-angle lens than was commercially available at the time. “We have developed a 30mm, but it's not ready for use yet, it's got a lot of distortion in it.” Wise immediately accepted it. The distortion resulting from this prototype lens helped to create the atmosphere of Hill House.
--Source: Robert Wise on His Films, Page 177
Stephen King was influenced by the story to not only write his own haunted house novel (The Shining) but to borrow Eleanor's psyche for Carrie. “Eleanor Vance is surely the finest character to come out of the new American Gothic tradition.”
--Source: Danse Macabre, Page 282
The infamous “bending door” scene was achieved by constructing a prop door composed of rubber. While filming, the bending effect was cause by having a number of stagehands push on the door.
Director Martin Scorsese named this his favorite horror film.
Robert Wise had seen Julie Harris in a play and decided she was perfect for the leading role. She later confessed that shooting the picture had been very hard on her. She saw her character, Eleanor, in a different way than director Wise but didn't feel it was her place to disagree, so playing the part was a struggle for her. Still she claims Wise was a perfect gentleman and they remained friends for decades.
The famous sharp contrast of the house against the dark sky and the clouds was created by the use of infrared film stock.
Russ Tamblyn was not very interested in playing the role of Luke Sanderson until MGM threatened him to resign his contract. Years later he confirmed that Sanderson was his best role by far for years.
Claire Bloom was intrigued to the play the role of a woman who was attracted to another woman. She said she got along with everyone on the set, except for Julie Harris, who tried everything to avoid her and not talk to her. At the end of the shoot, Harris went over to Bloom's house with a present and explained that the reason she had kept to herself was to stay in character, because Harris' role in the film was that of an outsider that none of the others understand or will listen to. Bloom was happy to hear the real reason behind Harris' behavior, since Bloom stated that she really liked Harris and could not understand what she herself had done wrong to be treated like that by her co-star.
Robert Wise had been on a contract with MGM and owed them one more film, so he brought "The Haunting" to them. They would only give him 1 million dollars to shoot the film, and Wise insisted that he needed a bigger budget. In the end he brought the project over to MGM in London, where they were willing to pay him 1.1 million, so he accepted and decided to do the film in England.
Director Robert Wise read a review of Shirley Jackson's novel "The Haunting of Hill House" in Time Magazine and decided to get the rights to the novel. He later met the writer herself to talk about ideas for the film. He asked her if she had thought of other titles for the novel, because the title would not work for the film. She told him that the only other title she had considered was simply "The Haunting", so Wise decided to use it for the film.