In New York, after seven years in prison, the lawyer Max Monetti goes to the bank of his brothers Joe, Tony and Pietro Monetti and promises revenge to them. Then he visits his lover Irene ... See full summary »
In New York, after seven years in prison, the lawyer Max Monetti goes to the bank of his brothers Joe, Tony and Pietro Monetti and promises revenge to them. Then he visits his lover Irene Bennett that asks him to forget the past and start a new life. Max recalls the early 30s, when he is the favorite son of his father Gino Monetti, who has a bank in the East Side. Gino is a tyrannical and egocentric self-made man that raises his family in an environment of hatred and Max is a competent lawyer engaged with Maria Domenico. When Max meets the confident Irene, he has a troubled love affair with her. In 1933, with the new Banking Act reaches Gino for misapplication of funds. Max plots a plan to help his father but is betrayed by his brothers. Now Max will see his brothers that have also being raised under the motto "Never Forgive, Never Forget". Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
"The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on January 25, 1951 with Edward G. Robinson reprising his film role. See more »
In flashbacks dating back to 1932, Irene wears hairstyles and clothing that are not significantly different from the fashionable look she sports during the 1939 framing story, 7 years later, and all of which are strictly in the significantly different mode of 1949, the year the film was made. See more »
An Italian-American family is the subject of "House of Strangers," a 1949 film starring Edward G. Robinson, Richard Conte, Susan Hayward, Luther Adler, Debra Paget, Hope Emerson, and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. Being of Italian extraction myself, I actually thought this film was written by an Italian and was surprised to see it wasn't. It was dead on.
Edward G. Robinson is Gino Monetti, who owns a bank in the '30s. He runs it like he's selling items out of his garage, with lousy bookkeeping, some people being charged interest up front on loans and some getting more money than they asked for. He has four sons, three of whom he treats like second-class citizens: Pietro is a guard at the bank by day and an amateur boxer by night, Joe is a teller, and Tony is a clerk. When Joe, who married a woman from a good Philadelphia family, asks for a raise he was promised, he gets a lecture from Gino about how the family lived in the back of a barber shop when Gino made $15 a week. When Pietro loses a boxing match, Gino takes the jacket off of his shoulders that says "Monetti Bank." Gino runs his home with more rigidity than he does his bank: His wife doesn't say much, and he has mandatory Wednesday night spaghetti dinners during which he plays opera recordings such as "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" starring Lawrence Tibbett.
Gino has a favored child, and that's Max, his lawyer son. When the Feds start investigating Gino, Max comes up with a solution. If all the brothers will take responsibility for the sloppiness at the bank, the Feds won't be able to pin anything on anybody. But the sons refuse to lift a finger to help their father, ultimately forcing him out and starting their own bank. Max goes to prison for attempting to bribe a juror, and when he gets out, he's bent on revenge against his brothers.
The acting is this film is nothing short of fantastic. Robinson is perfect as the dictatorial, ruthless Gino. Conte is totally believable as the favorite son - efficient and slightly to the right of slimy. Luther Adler gives a brilliant performance as the henpecked Tony. The rest of the cast is uniformly excellent. Susan Hayward plays Max's love interest, a woman who gives as good as she gets. She looks sensational and does a terrific job in her role. Stardom is right around the corner for her, and it's no surprise.
With a great pace kept by Joseph Mankiewicz, this is a film that I'm surprised we don't hear more about. It just goes to show that there were so many great films made in Hollywood in the past that even some marvelous ones are overlooked. "House of Strangers" is definitely one to see and remember.
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