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  • TBC
  • Drama, Film-Noir
  • 1951
  • 93 mins

The House On Telegraph Hill

The House On Telegraph Hill

Synopsis

Oscar-nominated thriller with noirish leanings directed by the legendary Robert Wise. In the wake of WWII, a Polish survivor of a concentration camp assumes the name of her dead friend and relocates to San Francisco, only to be embroiled in greed,

About

Sandwiched between his Two Flags West and The Day The Earth Stood Still came this thriller from Robert Wise. As you might expect from the man who went on to direct West Side Story and The Sound Of Music it's a lavish affair but amid the melodrama are some subtle touches, the demands of an elaborate plot balanced by careful characterisation.

Opening with grim footage of life in Belsen under the Nazis, the story follows Polish refugee Viktoria (Cortese) as she arrives in America on false papers and tracks down the family of the woman whose name she's taken. In their ramshackle San Francisco home she becomes a sort of surrogate mother to her dead friend's son. Lurking in the shadows, however, is the sinister figure of Alan Spender (Basehart), whose amorous attentions for Viktoria conceal a deadly ulterior motive.

With its sophisticated construction and eerie ambience there's much to appreciate in Wise's direction. However, it's Basehart's character that generates the tension and as Viktoria sifts through his past he's transformed from unctuous charmer to murderous monster. Not the most high profile of Wise's films but a rewarding, gothic-tinged thriller with more than a touch of Hitchcock about it.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Richard Basehart, Gordon Gebert, William Lundigan, Fay Baker, Valentina Cortese, Steven Geray
  • Director: Robert Wise
  • Screen Writer: Elick Moll, Sol Kaplan, Frank Partos
  • Writer: Dana Lyon
  • Producer: Robert Bassler

In a nutshell

Quality thriller built around two solid central performances - particularly Basehart's - steeped in intrigue and atmosphere. Builds slowly but once rolling swiftly gathers weight.

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