Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

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

The House On Telegraph Hill

The House On Telegraph Hill


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,


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.

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    Carry On Jack

    Bernard Cribbins, Juliet Mills and Kenneth Williams star in Gerard Thomas's 19th-century high-seas romp, the first of the Carry On comedies to adopt period costume.

    On Film4: 23 Mar 5:05PM

  • Film4

    Sherlock Holmes And The Secret Weapon

    Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce and Lionel Atwill star in director Roy William Neill's Second World War spy adventure.

  • Film4

    Youth on Film4

    Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel and Rachel Weisz star in Film4s first play of Youth, from acclaimed director Paolo Sorrentino

  • Film4

    Young Adult on Film4

    Charlize Theron and Patrick Wilson star in Young Adult, playing on Film4 for the first time.

Register with

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register