Love, tenderness and a sad, twisted Edward G. Robinson
May 7, 2011
Pete Morgan (Edward G. Robinson) owns a farm by the edge of the woods. His sister, Ellen Morgan (Judith Anderson), keeps house for him. Years ago they adopted a baby when the parents ran off. Now Meg Morgan (Allene Roberts) is a teenager in high school, and she persuades Pete to hire a friend, Nath (Lon McCallister), to help with the chores since Pete is having a hard time keeping up with things. He's getting older and has a wooden leg. Pete reluctantly agrees, but warns Nath that under no circumstances is he to go through the woods to get to the farm. Pete has even hired a hand with a rifle to scare people off. Naturally, Nath goes through the woods and, with Meg, determines to find out the mystery behind a ruined, overgrown red house they find there.
The Red House is a gem of a movie. It starts in sunlight, moves into tangled paths and deep shadows and then eventually works it way back out. The mystery is tragic and believable, and the film moves toward the conclusion with a real feeling of unease. It features some tense moments in the woods, and the red house itself is eerie and forbidding.
Robinson gives another of his first class performances. Pete is a man with a terrible secret, which his sister shares. He loves Meg and wants to protect her, but he also is increasingly unpredictable and unstable. Judith Anderson gives a performance of strength and compassion. Allene Roberts never developed much of a career but she reminds me a little of Teresa Wright. Lon McCallister was a boyish and very boy-next-door type. Together they're believable as two teens who begin to have serious feelings for each other. And it's interesting to see Rory Calhoun as the sleazy young guy with the rifle and Julie London as McCallister's girlfriend, who moves briskly over to Calhoun.
One of the strengths of the movie is Miklos Rozsa's score. He emphasizes the moods efficiently and with great effect. The theme he came up with for Meg Morgan is one of the most innocently romantic I've ever heard.
The Red House is a movie that might be described as a mystery drama with some psycho horror thrown in (with the horror being what people do and how they pay for it). It's a fine movie that, unfortunately, fell into public domain. Buyer beware as far as DVD transfer quality goes. Too bad, but The Red House still is worth having.
For reasons I’ve never really been able to quantify, I’ve never been much of an Edward G. Robinson’s work. It isn’t that I haven’t seen him as gifted or as relevant as others who came from his era of filmmaking; rather, it’s just that I’d long only seen him in many of the same roles – one after the other – so I thought he’d made a career out of playing the same stock character in a long list of films. THE RED HOUSE – recently … more
Since I retired in 1995 I have tried to hone skills in muttering to myself, writing and napping. At 75, I live in one of those places where one moves from independent living to hospice. I expect to begin … more
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