Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Barbara O'Neil, Joan Bennett and Michael Redgrave
SECRET BEYOND THE DOOR ... (1947). Director: Fritz Lang.

Celia (Joan Bennett) meets an attractive stranger, architect Mark Lamphere (Michael Redgrave), on a vacation, blows off her fiance, marries Mark, and goes home to his mansion where his friendly sister, Caroline (Anne Revere), strange son David (Mark Dennis) and even stranger secretary, Miss Robey (Barbara O'Neil), are waiting. Wouldn't you know that Mark is haunted by something, perhaps the death of his first wife, and has a rather odd hobby. In his house he has recreated rooms where infamous murders took place, and there is one room which is absolutely verboten for anybody to enter. Naturally Celia can't wait to see what's inside. As Mark puts it "under certain conditions a room can influence or even create the actions of the people within it." Well ... maybe. This oddball Gothic movie sounds good, but is tedious and full of pseudo-psychological hogwash, although the bit with the murder rooms is interesting, and the performances are reasonably good for this type of claptrap. Natalie Schafer [Female on the Beach] adds some zest, as she usually does, as a flamboyant friend of Celia's. Redgrave does the best he can with the material but seems uncomfortable throughout. Young Dennis makes an interesting David. The ending is unintentionally hilarious. Not one of Lang's more memorable movies. O'Neil was seen in better advantage in Stella Dallas and All This and Heaven, Too.

Verdict: Too tricky and silly by far. *1/2.

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