An isolated farmhouse is chosen as a hide-out by Jim and Charlie after an armed robbery. The Deleye family are forced to accept the situation under Jim's brutal domination. Badly wounded ...
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An isolated farmhouse is chosen as a hide-out by Jim and Charlie after an armed robbery. The Deleye family are forced to accept the situation under Jim's brutal domination. Badly wounded Charlie, a gentle character, takes Lisa's room but keeps her baby as hostage. As the local Police close in the family's unhappiness is uncovered and the tension in the house grows as the surrounding forest becomes a battleground for army exercises. Lisa and Charlie are soon making love, Hugo is killed by Jim and the stage is set for a final and bloody shootout. Written by
Two robbers take over a family in their semi-isolated dwelling
I rate "Stronghold" highly for its tension, its characters, the acting and the excellent script. Everything comes together to make this film an outstanding instance of this kind of story, which is a "The Desperate Hours" (1955) kind of story transplanted to a very different kind of family and location. In this case, the invaders are narrowed down to two men, and the ways that the family members interact with people other than the robbers is quite different. So too are the robbers different than in earlier versions of this kind of plot.
The Deleye family lives away from the village in an isolated farmhouse. They raise chickens and Deleye poaches. His son, Hugo, works in town for the sheriff. The sheriff, a man with a big belly but determined to protect the villagers, knows Deleye; and he's quite sharp.
Some components of the Dutch military use the surrounding land for practice exercises.
Deleye's unmarried daughter has a baby boy, which is by him. His wife keeps up the house. Deleye has several shotguns. One he keeps stored (and hidden) behind a panel. The daughter, Lisa, to some extent lives in an imaginary world. That his her escape, as well as her child. She sometimes uses her own language. Deleye is a morose and private kind of fellow, but protective of his domain. Approach his dwelling and you might be shot at.
Jim and Charlie are armed robbers. They've made a big score and chosen Deleye's place to hide. They succeed in taking over the family and their dwelling. Jim is smart and skilled, full of quips and barbs. He's an expert shot and knows just how to control the family. Deleye doesn't want to see the baby boy harmed. Charlie, who is wounded, is much quieter and reflective.
The sheriff comes snooping around because this place is a logical place for robbers to hide. He gets suspicious when Hugo calls in sick and when Deleye is not emptying his traps of the rabbits they are catching.
Each family member has to deal with these invaders, and each does so in his own way. Deleye doesn't or maybe cannot control them. Hugo has one idea, Lisa another, Deleye a third. This makes for some surprises.
This movie definitely stands out from the pack. The part of Jim is played by Hidde Maas. He is excellent in a very well-written part. This takes nothing away from the rest of the cast who also succeed in bringing their characters to life.
"Stronghold" is certainly not a well-known movie in America. I personally classify it as being in one of the directions taken by noir after the end of the classic era but somewhat before neo-noir became popular.
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