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I was expecting some sort of mystery or suspense film, but I didn't get one.
House Across the Bay stars Joan Bennett, George Raft, and Walter Pidgeon. It's from 1940, and it's an independent film produced by Bennett's husband, Walter Wanger, he of the itchy trigger finger.
The story concerns a gangster, Steve (Raft) who falls hard for a performer, Brenda (Bennett) at one of his clubs, and they get married. They have a wonderful time together. He showers her with gifts, they attend a lot of social events. It's a real whirlwind.
When Raft is shot at, Bennett thinks it might be better for him to plead to tax evasion, which his lawyer Slant (Lloyd Nolan) says will get him one year. She thinks it's worth it so he will be protected.
Little does Brenda know, Slant is not only a crook, but he's in love with her and wants Steve out of the way. So she's surprised when Steve gets 10 years and is sent to Alcatraz, probably joining fellow gangster Al Capone.
Brenda takes an apartment that looks out over Alcatraz, as it helps her to feel closer to Steve. She makes some friends, one of whom is Glenda Farrell, whose husband is also incarcerated. And one day she meets a very successful aircraft manufacturer and pilot, Tim (Pidgeon), and he falls in love with her. This is one woman who never had a problem getting dates.
Brenda stays faithful, but she's attracted to Tim. Problems arise - big ones.
Raft was a friend of the Wangers, although he walked off the set once. When he returned, the director, Archie Mayo, was gone. As a favor, Hitchcock stepped in and directed some of the airplane scenes.
I was disappointed. I thought this film was pretty routine, though I like all of the actors. Raft was a smooth actor and despite all that tough guy stuff, he demonstrated some warmth. Nolan was great as the calculating Slant. Bennett, as always, was lovely. I was in an elevator with her once -- she was elderly by then, her hair still black, beautiful blue eyes, and very tiny. She was a real glamour girl, along with her sister Constance.
Raft was responsible for Humphrey Bogart's career, and in the end, I think that was okay. He would never have had the layers Bogart did in playing the roles he turned down, as he was advised to do by his astrologer. Unfortunately she didn't look too far into the future.
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