Monday, April 30, 2012

Red House (1947)

The Red House

Written and Directed by Delmer Daves
Based on the novel by George Agnew Chamberlain

Pete Morgan...Edward G. Robinson
Nath Storm...Lon McCallister
Meg...Arlene Roberts
Teller...Rory Calhoun

Disabled farmer Pete Morgan and his homebody sister Ellen--the Mysterious Morgans, as they're known to the school kids--have raised innocent Meg since her parents died when she was two. When Pete hires local All American Boy Nath to assist around the farm, the newly-hired hand and Meg strike up a friendship that makes his risqué girlfriend Tibby more than a little uneasy. When after work one night, Nath announces his intentions to make a shortcut home through the Ox Head Woods. Pete warns against it, with much jabber about an old red house and torturous screams in the night, but Nath attempts it anyway, finding himself embroiled in a mystery, and dragging Meg along for the ride.

This psychological mystery film dates back some 65 years, and the age definitely shows. The pacing will be a bit slow for a lot of the modern audience, but the patient viewer will find a lot of rewarding things here. It's not a mile-a-minute fright factory, but a long slow burn into madness.

The performances are solid, especially by old timey great Edward G. Robinson as Farmer Pete and Rory Calhoun as bad news delinquent Teller, the fourth corner in the Meg-Nath-Tibby square dance of love.

Beautifully shot in crisp black-and-white, and backed by a perfectly fitting orchestral score, this examination of fatal attractions and deadly obsessions would make a great double-feature with Night of the Hunter.

The Red House has been restored and re-released by Film Chest/HD Cinema Classics in a fantastic Blu-Ray + DVD combo pack, now available in stores. Special thanks to them for supplying the screener.

110 Minutes
United States

"Don't put so high a price on courage. It's overrated."

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