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Author Topic: House of Strangers (1949)  (Read 1043 times)
drinkanddestroy
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« on: January 24, 2013, 02:12:50 PM »

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041487/

House of Strangers (1949) 9/10

Lawyer Max Monetti gets out of prison and has an antagonistic encounter with his three brothers, now executives at the bank founded by their late father. Through flashbacks, we learn the story of the Italian immigrant family: the patriarch Gino Monetti, whose had one favored son, Max, but alienated the other three.

Edward G. Robinson    ...   Gino Monetti
    Susan Hayward    ...   Irene Bennett
    Richard Conte    ...   Max Monetti
    Luther Adler    ...   Joe Monetti
    Paul Valentine    ...   Pietro Monetti
    Efrem Zimbalist Jr.    ...   Tony Monetti
    Debra Paget    ...   Maria Domenico
    Hope Emerson    ...   Helena Domenico
    Esther Minciotti    ...   Theresa Monetti
    Diana Douglas    ...   Elaine Monetti
    Tito Vuolo    ...   Lucca


I loved this movie. Edward G. Robinson  -- who won Best Actor at Cannes for this performance -- is terrific as the tyrannical patriarch with the Italian accent; and he has a great entrance, singing opera while in the bubble bath!

And just before that we have the most beautiful shot in the movie, one of the most beautiful shots I've ever seen, as Richard Conte is listening to opera, and the camera travels slowly up the staircase, as we go the flashback.

There is one previous post on this movie in the Film Noir Discussion Thread,  http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=1822.msg149659#msg149659

by cigar joe:
I should warn you that his post contains spoilers


House of Strangers (1949) Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz, with Richard Conte, Susan Hayward, Edward G. Robinson,    Luther Adler, Paul Valentine, and Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

Didn't know what to expect from this Noir, since I'd never heard of it. It was actually a quite good family drama Noir, with a story told mostly in flashback about an Italian patriarch with four sons who originally ran a barbershop and parlayed that into a money lending bank on NYC'sLower East Side. With the passage of new banking laws the Monetti bank is in trouble and lawyer son Conte ends up in jail doing seven years for trying to bribe a juror while the other three brothers reopen the bank and cut out the old man. Robinson is quite convincing as Monetti.

Conte is almost consumed with hate while in prison but love interest Hayward is the antidote and is very good in this film playing a high-class dame and they mutually fall in love at first sight. A nicely done denouement that keeps you guessing. No big set pieces or outstanding action sequences but above average. 8.5/10

« Last Edit: November 22, 2016, 10:57:52 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2013, 06:24:07 AM »

Remade as the Western Broken Lance (1954) w/ Spencer Tracy in the pater familias role.

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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2013, 06:46:06 AM »

Remade as the Western Broken Lance (1954) w/ Spencer Tracy in the pater familias role.

I saw Broken Lance on TCM once, or maybe Fox Movie Channel, I shut it off halfway through, it was awful

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« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2016, 02:33:22 PM »

 
Quote
A nicely done denouement that keeps you guessing.

That kept you, Joe, not me nor anybody else: the finale is as formulaic as can be. The only fun of the movie for me was listening to the incorrect italian spoken by Robinson and others. But one should keep in mind that in the '30's everybody was speaking dialects, italian was spoken only by cultured people. This is a heavy melodrama with the noir put into it only in the finale. 6/10

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« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2016, 11:23:40 AM »

Just saw this movie for the second time.

I love this movie. The DVD is not great. There are instances of flickering and speckles, and the black level is boosted so high, like when Conte is wearing a black suit, you can't even see the detail, like the pocket or the buttons. I hope they put this out on BRD.

Also, you could quibble with this being called a noir, like titoli mentioned above. This really is not a crime drama - yeah, at the end, a case is brought against the bank, and there is jury tampering, etc., but this movie is really not about a crime; it is a family drama. And the movie isn't really filmed in teh visually noir style, either, except for the framing-device scenes - the opening and closing scenes in the big house that take place in the "present day." So you could quibble with this being called a noir.

But noir or not, it is a damn good movie. Great performances all around. Only problem is with a minor character - Hope Emerson, who plays Debra Paget's mother. She is supposed to be an old Italian woman but there is nothing Italian about her, she does not even attempt the slightest Italian accent; she sounds as American as anyone else. Also, whereas most of the actors playing Italian characters look Italian (or at least Italian-enough that they can pass for their characters), Luther Adler does not look Italian at all. But I won't complain too much about that, because, as always, Adler gives a great performance.

Adler is one of many actors (Eli Wallach is another who comes to mind) who did great work in the few films in which he appeared, but most of his work was in the theater. I wish he had done more films. But I'll always enjoy the few performances of his that we do have on film.

Anyway, damn good movie. I hope we get a good BRD soon!

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« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2017, 05:58:10 PM »

Great film: probably one of Edward G. Robinson's best and most underrated performances. The others in the film were great, too. Interesting storyline.

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