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House by the River (1950)

Cast: Louis Hayward, Lee Bowman, Jane Wyatt, more...
Director: Fritz Lang
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Studio: Kino
Genre: Classics, Suspense/Thriller, Vintage Noir, Dysfunctional Families
Running Time: 85 min.
Languages: English
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Fritz Lang was the guiding hand of this laudable Republic Studios melodrama. Louis Hayward stars as a wealthy wastrel who tries to seduce the family maid. She resists, and he kills her. Long jealous of his brother Lee Bowman, Hayward does his best to pin the blame for the murder on his sibling. Also affected by Hayward's arrogant dementia is his long-suffering wife Jane Wyatt. Originally, director Lang had proposed that the unfortunate maid be a black woman, and that the killing take place accidentally during some harmless flirtation on Hayward's part. He was vetoed by the timorous Republic staff (even the slightest hint of miscegenation was taboo in 1950), but House by the River turned out pretty well all the same. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

brother's keeper by cammelltoe April 16, 2006 - 5:40 PM PDT
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
a fine hothouse melodrama, powered by noir anxieties and writ large in gothic language. 'House by the River' would sit comfortably on a double bill with either charles laughton's 'night of the hunter' or william wyler's 'the letter' as well as fitting nicely into the better known parts of the (justly) celebrated Lang oeuvre--- the social critique of 'm' or the mabuse films is here, if not as fully fleshed out; also the sexual/homicidal themes of the great 'scarlet street' or 'woman in the window'.
Besides all that, this is a vastly entertaining film with a credible emotional undercurrent and a deft hand at creating suspense. highly recommended!!!

A Fritz Lang Relic by talltale February 13, 2006 - 6:28 AM PST
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful
Being a big Fritz Lang fan, I looked forward to finally viewing the little-seen HOUSE BY THE RIVER. Don't get your hopes up. With its silly, obvious mystery story that offers almost no surprise, and cast with a leading man (Louis Hayward) who gives a performance verging on then toppling into camp, the movie begins well enough (all the little sexual references are perfect for the corseted 50's) but soon grows tired and obvious.

Here's a chance to see Jane Wyatt a few years before she entered her "Father Knows Best" phase plus another good performance by the underrated Lee Bowman as Hayward's crippled brother. There's also a slow but interesting courtroom scene featuring a knockout speech by Dorothy Patrick that pulls the rug from under small minds in small towns. The movie is fun--though certainly not in the manner that anyone making it at the time would have wanted. That's the beauty (and the sadness) of unintentional camp.

The only extra on the DVD is a short reminisicencse from a French film critic about discovering the film and then talking to Lang about it. The director seemed only to remember or be interested in the first ten minutes of the film. Smart man, as those are most certainly the best.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.33)
15 Votes
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