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Moorman

House by the River (1950)

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Whenever I run across a film directed by Fritz Lang its almost a INSTANT look for me.  For that reason I gave this one a screening. SPOILER ALERT:  Writer Stephen Bryne (Louis Hayward) makes a drunken pass at his maid Emily ( Dorothy Patrick) and to silence her screams he accidently strangles her.  His brother John (Lee Bowman) happens to come along at this time and Stephen isn't able to hide what he did.  He manipulates John into helping him dump the body into the river that runs right next to Stephen's huge house.  Thats the basic plot.

The plot felt half baked. The whole exercise felt like something Lang was forced to do.  The material was waaaay beneath his stature.  There was little suspense with the script and the ending was weak.  Its a shame because a excellent cinematography by Edward J. Cronjager and a pretty good performance by Hayward were wasted on this. There was soo much potential here that was wasted.

I rank it a 6 out of 10...

 

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I don't know this title. Thanks for clewing me in, Moorman!

 

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27 minutes ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

I don't know this title. Thanks for clewing me in, Moorman!

 

The cinematography is great here. Its worth a look.  You can see it on Youtube...

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1 hour ago, Moorman said:

The cinematography is great here. Its worth a look.  You can see it on Youtube...

What time period \ setting is the film set in?    I ask because Hayward was effective in the Gothic \ English setting in the film Ladies in Retirement (with wife Ida Lupino),   but post WWII I'm not sure that same type of vibe is as effective. 

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1 hour ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

What time period \ setting is the film set in?    I ask because Hayward was effective in the Gothic \ English setting in the film Ladies in Retirement (with wife Ida Lupino),   but post WWII I'm not sure that same type of vibe is as effective. 

Victorian era. Southern Gothic feel...

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This is one of my favorite films from Republic Pictures. 

Here's something I wrote awhile back:

Recently I watched Fritz Lang's gothic noir HOUSE BY THE RIVER. I've always liked this film, because of its precise period detail and highly atmospheric touches.

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Halfway into the story there's a courtroom scene where Lee Bowman's character is on trial for murder. We already know his brother (played by Louis Hayward) is the real culprit. One of the attorneys rolls a pencil across the table where he is sitting. Lang has the camera show the pencil rolling across the length of the table before reaching the edge of the surface and falling to the floor.

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The camera then cuts to Hayward on the stand who continues to give false testimony, completely unfettered by the interruption of the pencil dropping. Viewers may wonder why Lang has nearly stopped the narrative to focus on a runaway pencil. But I think it's because the attorney knows Hayward is lying on the stand, and he's trying to see if he can rattle him and expose his perjury.

*****

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