DVD Review: THE RED HOUSE

By Cinema Latte

Rating: 4 out of 5 Reels

RELEASE DATE: April 24, 2012

DISC INFORMATION: 2 discs—Blu-Ray and DVD Combo, B&W, full screen

RUNNING TIME:  100 minutes

SPECIAL FEAUTURES:  Digitally restored in Hi-Def and transferred from original 35mm film, Original Movie Art Postcard,  Spanish subtitles, Original movie trailer, and audio commentary with William Hare (author of Early Film Noir:  Greed, Lust and Murder Hollywood Style, L.A. Noir:  Nine Dark Visions of the City of Angels, and Hitchcock and the Methods of Suspense.)

 RATED:  Not rated, would probably earn a PG rating for brief violence

GENRE:  Film Noir/ Drama/Thriller/Mystery

STARRING:  Edward G. Robinson, Lon McCallister, Judith Anderson, Rory Calhoun, Allene Roberts, Julie London, Ona Munson and Harry Shannon

Pete Morgan and his sister, Ellen, have raised Meg since she was a baby and her parents died.  Always a shy and quiet outcast, Meg asks her fellow school friend, Nath, if he would be interested in a job helping around the farm now that Pete is having trouble getting around on his wooden leg.  Everything goes well until the one day that the hours swept away from them and Nath takes a shortcut through the woods to go home.  Pete hysterically warns him away from the woods at night and tries to stop him, but Nath goes anyway only to return at a run with stories of screams in the woods that frightened him to the bone.  Out to prove that he isn’t afraid of anything, Nath teams up with Meg to find out the secrets that hide in the woods against Pete’s wishes.  Pete’s desire to hide the secret, the secret’s desire to be known, and the curiosity of the two teens all collide in this dark tale of intrigue and mystery.

Filmed in 1947 and based on a story adaptation of a serial that ran in the Saturday Evening Post in 1945, famed director and writer, Delmer Daves, creates a wonderful tale of love, murder, and mystery.  The brilliance of lighting a black and white movie to be a film noir is a masterpiece in itself and is done beautifully here by Bert Glannon.  The sets are beautiful and engaging and carry the story’s tension well.

The cast is perfectly placed.  Judith Anderson reminded me so much of Angelica Houston, that it is almost uncanny.  The rest of the cast matched in caliber of performances are entertaining to watch them create life into their roles.  What an amazing cast and a wonder that they aren’t a better known list of who’s who.

This story is a really good mystery and it is a great build up to the reveal.  The lighting technique to let you know when you are in the reality or the illusion of the mentally unstable Pete is very subtle and very nicely done.  The sets play a huge part in setting the moods and are nicely played.

Ok, so the reason I am giving this a  4 out of 5 reels grade instead of a 5 lies completely with the commentary by William Hare.  If you ever want the most mind numbing, pointless and absolutely painful commentary during a movie, listen to Hare’s track.  The man just basically tells you what you just read on screen, what the character just said, what the character just did, and what the expression of the character is for.  You know the type.  You’ve sat next to them in the movie theaters.  You know, the one that sits there reading aloud all the notes and subtitles, repeating dialogue, or giving play by play of what you are watching.  It is the most annoying and irritating thing about this Blu-Ray/DVD release.  If this commentary had not been on this movie, I probably would have been able to give this one a higher grade without hesitation, but thanks to Hare, this is not the case.

For collectors of Hollywood history, film noir, or just Hollywood of old movies; this is a great film to add to the collection. Just avoid listening to the drone on the commentary track.  Great performances and good mystery make this an entertaining movie.

That’s my review and I’m sticking with it.

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