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Matt B. from GETZVILLE, NY Reviewed on 2/21/2011...
When The Red House was released in 1947, critics called it the “sleeper hit” of the year. The casting had much to do with the praise. Edward G. Robinson plays a farmer, so it was interesting to see him a long way from the crooks and other city types he usually played. GI pin-up girl Julie London plays to perfection the little town flirt who tantalizes both the good boy, Lon McCallister, and bad boy, Rory Calhoun. Calhoun’s looks – dark Irish meets Cherokee – fit the part of woodsman who dabbles in trouble. Allene Roberts, with her sensitive eyes, slender build, and gentle manner, plays the troubled orphan. Judith Anderson puts in a believable performance as the farmer’s too devoted sister.
As for the story, things change on an isolated farm when Robinson’s disabled farmer hires McCallister as a hand. Robinson warns the boy and orphan to stay out of the woods and the red house it surrounds. But the teenagers naturally ignore the warning. Although the bad boy guards the woods with a rifle – we wonder if moonshining is the secret – the good boy, the orphan, and the flirt explore the mystery of the woods.
Gradually revealed is a grisly family secret. The movie handles smoothly the theme of the outcome of violence and the holds guilt and secrecy exert. Edward G. Robinson gives a restrained performance as a man with a burden. His high level is approached by the three younger actors. McCallister, a kid actor, was a seasoned vet, but Allene Roberts and Julie London were newcomers, rising to performances beyond their age and experience.
A Neglected Masterpiece!
R. Gawlitta | Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA | 06/16/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw this film on the late show back in the 50's when I was a mere child. It scared the pants off me then, and pretty much does the same now. This is what I call staying power. Too bad more people aren't aware of this film. The sad thing about the presentation of this film (I have both the VHS & DVD) is that the sound recording needs definite restorative work. This would really be disturbing if the film itself wasn't so compelling. The production values as well as the production team are all A-List, from the fine direction of Delmer Daves to the outstanding mood-setting score of Max Steiner to the casting of pro stars like Edward G. Robinson & Judith Anderson sharing the screen with teen magazine heart-throbs Rory Calhoun and Julie London. Lon McCallister is fine in what is really the lead role, and a very fine performance by young Allene Roberts (whatever happened to her!). The DVD is pretty much of the bargain-bin variety, though there are a couple of little extras on it...most notably explaining that Robinson's career came to a standstill after this film because of the Hollywood blacklist. The suspense factor is among the highest I can recall (EVER!); the script is literate and clever; characters are well-defined; and the creepy mood is consistant. See this film and tell all your friends; you will NOT be disappointed."
See this with the lights off
Ian Muldoon | Coffs Harbour, NSW Australia | 04/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An underrated psychological mood piece directed with great skill by Delmer Daves, it is best watched in the dark with no interruptions so that its full power can be realised. I did not go down in the woods for quite a while after watching this film and gained an added appreciation for the work of Edward G. Robinson and that great actor Judith Anderson (see also Hitchcock's REBECCA). From one of the greatest periods of Hollywood movie making."
A Long Lost Classic!!
Bindy Sue Frřnkünschtein | under the rubble | 06/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Edward G. Robinson is fantastic as the man with the dark secret, in this excellent thriller! I bought it expecting to be either bored or amused. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised! The Red House is actually pretty creepy. Robinson plays a farmer who is not what he appears to be. There's a red house in the woods where something terrible happened many years earlier. His daughter (Arlene Roberts), and his sister (the magnificent Judith "Mrs. Danvers" Anderson) live with him. A boy comes to help out on the farm and the web of mystery slowly unravels. I highly recommend this for anyone who loves thrillers, chillers, or just plain good movies..."
Don't let the sound scare you away.
Bindy Sue Frřnkünschtein | 08/06/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I delayed ordering this movie for a year because of all the comments about the bad soundtrack. Don't let those concerns deprive you of seeing this classic. I can't speak for the VHS versions, but the sound on the DVD version was not nearly as bad as I was led to expect. Hi-fi it is definitely not. Yes, it's extremely tinny-sounding -- at times sounding like an old 78 rpm disc. And briefly, once or twice, there was rattle like a bad speaker cone at a drive-in theater. The tinniness was very noticeable for the first five minutes. But after that, you quickly adjust to it and soon forget about the sound quality. What had frightened me away from buying it was not the tinniness but rather the fear that the sound would be mushy or fuzzy -- something you'd never adjust to. But there was none of that. The sound was crisp enough that I was able to follow every word of dialog with no trouble at all. Yes, a fully restored sound track would make it even better. But until then, relax and enjoy!"
A gripping drama still waits for adequate restoration
Bindy Sue Frřnkünschtein | 01/27/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Delmer Daves' movie about a family mystery, filmed outside, is as compelling as it was fifty years ago, with stunning performances by Edward G. Robinson and Judith Anderson, a superb music score by Miklos Rozsa and thoroughly rising tension. Unfortunately, all existing tapes have been awful experiences because of the rotten sound and picture quality. The new DVD has Dolby Digital, so the dialogues fare somewhat better, while still aren't acceptable. A complete restoration appears to be very expensive, so one now has to stay with this best version. Finally, the movie counts."