While The Hosue on Telegraph Hill fails to be the top notch thriller it wants to be, it nevertheless has a number of superior elements and fans of this genre should seek it out. Less than perfect, House is still quite entertaining. The chief culprit, as is so often the case, is the screenplay. This kind of film needs to be perfectly structured, with every scene making a point and/or serving a specific purpose but doing so in a manner that is not baldly obvious. House's screenplay lacks the finesse that would have elevated it. It also makes the mistake of starting with a fascinating premise -- the survivor of a Nazi concentration camp taking the identity of a slain campmate -- but it doesn't really develop it; after the first 20 or so minutes, this set-up makes no real difference to the plot, other than to give the female lead a secret that can prove damaging to her. But despite the script flaws, House still offers a number of thrills, thanks to its cast and direction -- and its editing. (The runaway vehicle sequence, especially, owes its effectiveness to very fine editing.) Robert Wise's direction doesn't cover the holes in the script, but it plays up its strengths, and he makes a number of segments quite good. And the cast, especially leads Valentina Cortese, Richard Basehart and Fay Baker, all turn in performances that make House worth a viewing.
by Craig Butler review