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Self-described American "hack novelist" Alex Nicol (as Mark Kendrick) is living in England. Hoping to avoid women and alcohol in order to finish a book, Mr. Nicol rents a small bungalow outside of London. Across the lake from his residence, Nicol observes partying. Very quickly, he joins the celebration and gets drunk. If you're guessing a woman is up next, you're correct. Nicol surprisingly passes over pretty young Susan Stephen (as Andrea Forrest) and succumbs to the advances of her step-mother Hillary Brooke (as Carol). Her wealthy and unhealthy husband Sidney James (as Beverly Forrest) plus a pianist lover aren't enough for Ms. Brooke, apparently...
This seems like "Double Indemnity" with a dash of "Sunset Boulevard". Director Ken Hughes adapted the screenplay from his own novel, which was undoubtedly more clearly drawn. Nicol and the setting work, and Mr. Hughes moves it quickly. The main characters' sexual relationships are not convincing, however. Throwing in a couple lines indicating Nichol had a brief affair with Ms. Brooke years ago might have helped us believe his attraction, and Ms. Stephen seems too desirable for her role. Most irritating, there is a character inappropriately held responsible for an act of murder, and we're not sure why this person simply doesn't state the facts before the story ends.
**** The House Across the Lake (4/16/54) Ken Hughes ~ Alex Nicol, Hillary Brooke, Sidney James, Susan Stephen
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