IMDb > The House on Telegraph Hill (1951)
The House on Telegraph Hill
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The House on Telegraph Hill (1951) More at IMDbPro »

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The House on Telegraph Hill -- Trailer for this film about a house of secrets and scandal


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Up 125% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Elick Moll (screenplay) and
Frank Partos (screenplay) ...
View company contact information for The House on Telegraph Hill on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
27 August 1951 (Sweden) See more »
Shame is the mistress of this house and betrayal its master! See more »
Concentration camp survivor Victoria Kowelska finds herself involved in mystery, greed, and murder when she assumes the identity of a dead friend in order to gain passage to America. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Nominated for Oscar. See more »
User Reviews:
This is the House on Telegraph Hill, where I once thought I'd find peace and contentment. See more (30 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Richard Basehart ... Alan Spender

Valentina Cortese ... Victoria Kowelska (as Valentina Cortesa)
William Lundigan ... Major Marc Bennett
Fay Baker ... Margaret
Gordon Gebert ... Christopher
Steven Geray ... Dr. Burkhardt
Herbert Butterfield ... Joseph C. Callahan
Kei Thin Chung ... Kei - Houseboy
John Burton ... Mr. Whitmore
Katherine Meskill ... Mrs. Whitmore
Mario Siletti ... Tony, the Grocer
Charles Wagenheim ... Man At Accident

David Clarke ... Mechanic
Tamara Schee ... Maria
Natasha Lytess ... Karin Dernakova
Ashmead Scott ... Inspector Hardy
Mari Young ... Chinese Singer
Tom McDonough ... Farrell
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Flo Buzby ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Harry Carter ... Detective Ellis (uncredited)
Spencer Chan ... Chinese Cook (uncredited)
Sonie Charsaky ... Bit Role (uncredited)
Geraldine Jordan ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Don Kohler ... Chemist (uncredited)
Margaret Masters ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Roger McGee ... G.I. (uncredited)
Eleanor Moore ... Bit Role (uncredited)
Leslie K. O'Pace ... U.N.R.A. Sergeant (uncredited)
Eugene Porcheur ... Polish Man (uncredited)
Henry Rowland ... Sergeant, Interpreter (uncredited)
Jeffrey Sayre ... Police Stenographer (uncredited)
Glen Walters ... Bit Role (uncredited)

Directed by
Robert Wise 
Writing credits
Elick Moll (screenplay) and
Frank Partos (screenplay)

Dana Lyon (novel)

Robert Bassler  contributing writer (uncredited)
Richard Murphy  contributing writer (uncredited)
Robert Wise  contributing writer (uncredited)

Produced by
Robert Bassler .... producer
Original Music by
Sol Kaplan 
Cinematography by
Lucien Ballard (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Nick DeMaggio  (as Nick De Maggio)
Art Direction by
John DeCuir  (as John De Cuir)
Lyle R. Wheeler  (as Lyle Wheeler)
Set Decoration by
Paul S. Fox 
Thomas Little 
Costume Design by
Charles Le Maire 
Renié (costumes designed by) (as Renie)
Makeup Department
Ben Nye .... makeup artist
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Horace Hough .... assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Don B. Greenwood .... property master (uncredited)
Sound Department
Harry M. Leonard .... sound
George Leverett .... sound
Visual Effects by
Fred Sersen .... special photographic effects
Music Department
Maurice De Packh .... orchestrator (as Maurice de Packh)
Alfred Newman .... musical director
Edward B. Powell .... orchestrator (as Edward Powell)
Bernard Mayers .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Other crew
Allan A. Buckhantz .... technical advisor (uncredited)
Anthony Jowitt .... dialogue director (uncredited)

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
93 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Finland:K-16 | Netherlands:18 (original rating) (1951) | Portugal:M/12 | Sweden:15 | UK:A (original rating) | UK:U (video rating) (2007) | USA:Approved (certificate #14810)

Did You Know?

Furnishings and props for the mansion interior were acquired by property master Tom Little from the estates of the Aga Khan III and David Belasco.See more »
Factual errors: Nazi concentration camps routinely confiscated the identification documents and personal property of inmates. Yet Victoria's friend Karin has been allowed by the Nazis to keep a photograph of her son and other means of identification, which Victoria takes after Karin's death. And Victoria also kept her own passport during her time as a prisoner of the Nazis.See more »
Alan Spender:[to Victoria/Karin] The trouble with you is you really don't know how to relax.See more »
Blue MoonSee more »


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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful.
This is the House on Telegraph Hill, where I once thought I'd find peace and contentment., 10 February 2011
Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom

The House on Telegraph Hill is directed by Robert Wise and adapted for the screen by Elick Moll & Frank Partos from the novel The Frightened Child written by Dana Lyon. It stars Richard Baseheart, Valentina Cortese, William Lundigan & Fay Baker. Filmed on location primarily in the Telegraph Hill area of San Francisco, the film features photography by Lucien Ballard and a musical score directed by Alfred Newman.

Victoria Kowelska (Cortese) survives Belsen, but with her family killed by the Nazis she is all alone in the world with no identity. With her Belsen friend Karin Dernakova (Natasha Lytess) not surviving till liberation, Victoria decides to take on Karin's identity to get to America. Under the guise of being Karin, Victoria winds up in San Francisco, living in a prime mansion, married to Dernakova trustee Alan Spender (Baseheart), mother to young Chris (Gordon Gebert) and heiress to the family fortune. But the House on Telegraph Hill is home to many secrets and unanswered questions: Can Alan be trusted? Why is Margaret (Baker) the housekeeper cold towards her? What really brought about the death of the recently deceased aunt? And can she even trust her only real friend, Major Marc Bennett (Lundigan)?

Director Robert Wise was one of the most versatile men to have ever worked in cinema . He pretty much covered all genres in his long and distinguished career, here for The House on Telegraph Hill, he blends Gothic melodrama with film noir leanings. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction (Wheeler, DeCuir, Little & Fox), the film is certainly a lavish enough production, and for sure the story is well elaborated, but the picture as a whole is not all that it can be. For although it's rich with an eerie ambiance that's occasionally punctured by the promise of some sinister intervention, it never delivers on its promises. The suggestions and heightened tensions grab the attention, but the screenplay doesn't allow the woman in danger scenario room to grow. None of which is helped by the fact that the film opens with Victoria narrating her flashback in past-tense voice over! It's hardly a smart move by the makers that, is it? Perhaps it's wrong to judge it as being part of the group that contains, Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), Gaslight (1940/1944) and The Spiral Staircase (1946)? But fact remains it's a long way from being half as good as any of those films.

However, there is still enough in Wise's film to keep it above average and make it a safe recommendation to fans of the "woman-in-mansion-in-peril" sub-genre. The story is well played by the principal actors. Baseheart has to play his cards close to his chest in the tricky role that requires him to keep us guessing as to if he is good or bad. That he offers no clues is testament to the good performance Baseheart gives. Italian actress Cortese binds the film together with a layered performance that contains excellent visual acting, where nervous smiles and saddened eyes tell of guilt and longing that the screenplay has sadly not let the character expand upon. Baker is a touch underwritten, but does a neat line in icy cold veneer, while Lundigan offers up a nice counterpoint as the other man in Victoria's life. Having Lucien Ballard on cinematography is a good move. Be it capturing the expansive colour vistas for Budd Boetticher & Sam Peckinpah in Westerns, or shooting in atmospherically stark black & white for the likes of John Brahm & Jacques Tourneur, Ballard showed himself to be a master photographer. Here in the brooding Dernakova mansion he deals in shadows and low lights to great tonal effect. Alfred Newman's (a record 9 time Academy Award winner) score, aided by Sol Kaplan, is very dramatic and flows freely around the house and is at one with Victoria's various emotional states.

The House on Telegraph Hill contains menacing undertones that are boosted by camera, music and acting. If only the writing was in tune with those things then we would be talking about a classic of its type. 6.5/10

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Better S.F. car 'chase' than BULLITT !! rpmmurphy
NOT a film noir cbrylla
Brings Back Memories........... necoleman
Spoiler: Bennett's mechanic says ... oldmagnolia
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