Madeleine Damien is the fashion editor of a slick Manhattan magazine by day and a lively party girl by night. Unfortunately, the pressures of her job, including kowtowing to a hefty ... See full summary »
Director Lewis Milestone started the film, but after extensive rehearsals and preparation he fell ill and was replaced by John Brahm, who reshot some of the early scenes. See more »
When young Lee enters the house after playing with the boy on the swing, her face and dress are clean. However when she enters her mother's room, she has chocolate smudged on her face and dress. See more »
Some prints of the film are cut to 100 minutes, and omit, among other scenes, the prologue that turns the story into a flashback, in which Aline MacMahon stands at the edge of a cliff as if looking down at someone who has been killed, and reminisces in voice-over about the events in the story.See more »
John Brahm directs early Ann Baxter in effective noirish melodrama
Six years before entering film history in the title role of All About Eve as duplicitous, back-stabbing ingenue Eve Harrington Ann Baxter took a trial run in John Brahm's Guest in the House. Her character proves to be even more spiteful, that of a malingering but controlling waif in whose mouth a pat of butter would stay as hard and cold as her supposedly bum ticker.
Under the care of her young and smitten doctor, Ann arrives in the home of his extended family somewhere on the New England coast (high cliffs, crashing waves) for a recuperative summer. Once settled in the guest room, she takes to her bed and her phonograph on which she plays shades again of All About Eve `Liebestraum' over and over. She also sends her doting doctor packing, having set her snood for his older, married artist brother Ralph Bellamy. And then she calculatedly proceeds to tyrannize the entire household, sending away seriatim the domestic help (Margaret Hamilton and Percy Kilbride), Bellamy's live-in model, and, ultimately, Bellamy's wife (Ruth Warrick) and young daughter.
Of course, Baxter's illness afflicts not so much her heart as her mind. Along with her luggage she unpacks a lovingly tended collection of phobias (the one to birds proves pivotal) and a high-maintenance Borderline Personality Disorder. And, again of course, summer turns into a cold, forbidding fall before any member of the household picks up on the clues and holds her responsible for the dysfunction she has unleashed on the household. But at long last the worms begins to turn....
Guest in the House is really a parlor melodrama from a script by Ketti Frings, who would go on to write half a dozen or so noir screenplays. This one starts off slowly but once it gets underway it holds interest (it's a full two-hour movie, too). John Brahm, another emigre director from Europe who could be counted upon to produce craftsmanlike if not inspired work, stays in his element here, barely moving from the claustrophobic confines of the big old house and pulling out all the stops on the gothic organ: thunder and lightning, hurricane lamps, the sweeping beam of a lighthouse flooding the rooms then vanishing.
The cast acquits itself admirably as well. Though Bellamy's bumbling male seems a bit at odds with his supposedly artistic temperament, Ruth Warrick (the first Mrs. Charles Foster Kane) adroitly underplays, letting second-string players like Hamilton and Kilbride ham it up; another shrewd underplayer is Aline McMahon, as spinsterish Aunt Martha, who hides her light under a bushel until finally letting it flare. That leaves Baxter as the central character, onto whom we tumble early by virtue of having seen the way she works as Eve Harrington (an advantage they didn't have in 1944). Guest in the House strains our credulity a bit but stays a surprisingly effective and moody melodrama.
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