(Open Thread) Noir Side Street — “The Red House”

Incoming Day. Photo by Emanuele Toscano.

Today’s film is United Artists’ 1947 noir-horror classic “The Red House,” starring Edward G. Robinson (Pete Morgan), Lon McCallister (Nath Storm), Allene Roberts (Meg Morgan), Rory Calhoun (Teller), Julie London (Tibby Rinton), Judith Anderson (Ellen Morgan), Ona Munson (Mrs. Storm), Harry Shannon (Dr. Jonathan Byrne), Arthur Space (The Sheriff), Pat Flaherty (Motorcycle Cop, uncredited), Walter Sande (Don Brent, uncredited). Produced by Sol Lesser and Edward G. Robinson for their company Thalia Productions; distributed by United Artists. Directed by Delmer Daves; cinematography by Bert Glennon. Music by Miklós Rózsa. Written by Delmer Daves and Albert Maltz (uncredited); based on the novel “The Red House,” by George Agnew Chamberlain.

This was the first film produced by Thalia Productions, a company started by Sol Lesser and Edward G. Robinson. It runs 100 minutes; and with a star like Edward G. Robinson, it wasn’t a small-budget affair like so many noirs are. Much of the film was shot in Sonora, California. The young adults who populate much of the cast are all good in their roles.

Unlike most noir flicks, this one takes place in the bucolic countryside, proving that secrets haunting men into madness can be found anywhere, even in a red house hidden deep in the woods.

You can watch the film here:

Nath Storm takes an after-school job at the Morgan farm, helping out Pete with the chores he’s getting too old to handle on his own. But at the end of his first day, when he suggests he might cut through Ox Head Woods to save himself two miles on his walk home, Nath is warned by Pete not to take that route, as it’s unsafe and the woods are filled with screams. Nath ignores the ominous warnings and makes his way through the woods, only to end up running back to the Morgan farm, where he spends the night.

Soon Nath and Pete’s adopted daughter Meg are driven by their curiosity to investigate the woods and look for the mysterious red house which is the supposed source of the screams which had scared Nath on that first night.

Everything about this film is quality, which makes it a pleasure to watch. The locations are beautiful, the acting great, and the story is solid. All in all, I give it 4.25 unfiltered cigarette puffs out of 5.

Next week’s film is “The Phenix City Story.”

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