The Red House (1947)

Genres - Mystery, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Gothic Film, Melodrama, Psychological Thriller  |   Release Date - Mar 16, 1947 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

If The Red House falls a little short of being a totally successful noirish thriller, it's not for lack of trying. Indeed, director Delmer Daves pulls out every trick in his considerable bag and exhibits extraordinary determination to draw the audience into this dangerous house. As a matter of fact, he exhibits a bit too much determination, with the effort showing unduly. The viewer watches impressed at Daves' technique and commitment, marveling at the expert use of sound and shadow; yet, it ultimately comes across as a little too much, and that "too much" keeps viewers from becoming as engrossed as they could be. And when they're not totally engrossed, it gives them the opportunity to notice some cracks in the story itself and to notice that, despite all of Daves' resolve, the climax holds too few surprises to really work and the inclusion of the elopement of secondary characters does nothing except divert from the underdeveloped ending. The casting of Lon McCallister in the pivotal role of Nath is also problematic. He's an amiable enough actor, but he doesn't seem to understand the depths of the character. As a result, the complexities of Nath make no sense to the audience. Fortunately, the rest of the casting brings no such problems to House. Edward G. Robinson is in magnificent form; few actors could combine toughness and vulnerability in the manner Robinson did, and his performance is crucial to House. Judith Anderson, if a bit too refined in voice, is also a prime asset, and there's also fine work from a sensuous Julie London. The Red House has other assets, including an unusual rural setting for a noir-esque film; if all the assets don't push the movie into the winner's circle, they come close.