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House by the River (1950)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 25 March 1950 (USA)
A deranged writer murders a maid after she resists his advances. The writer engages his brother's help in hiding the body, causing unexpected problems for both of them.


Fritz Lang


Mel Dinelli (screenplay), A.P. Herbert (novel)




Complete credited cast:
Louis Hayward ... Stephen Byrne
Lee Bowman ... John Byrne
Jane Wyatt ... Marjorie Byrne
Dorothy Patrick ... Emily Gaunt
Ann Shoemaker ... Mrs. Ambrose
Jody Gilbert ... Flora Bantam
Peter Brocco ... Harry - Coroner
Howland Chamberlain ... District Attorney
Margaret Seddon Margaret Seddon ... Mrs. Whittaker - Party Guest
Sarah Padden ... Mrs. Beach
Kathleen Freeman ... Effie Ferguson - Party Guest
Will Wright ... Inspector Sarten
Leslie Kimmell Leslie Kimmell ... Mr. Gaunt
Effie Laird Effie Laird ... Mrs. Gaunt


The unsuccessful writer Stephen Byrne tries to force his servant Emily Gaunt sexually while his wife Marjorie Byrne is visiting a friend and accidentally strangles her. His crippled brother John Byrne coincidently comes to his house in that moment, and Stephen asks him to help to get rid of the corpse and avoid an scandal, since his wife would be pregnant. The naive and good John helps his brother to dump the body in the river nearby his house. Stephen uses the disappearance of Emily to blame her and promote his book. When the body is found by the police, all the evidences points to John, and he becomes the prime suspect of the murder. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

boat | writer | murder | maid | marriage | See All (84) »


WOMEN SPOKE OF HER with Scorn...MEN THOUGHT OF HER with Longing! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Kathleen Freeman, in her ninth movie appearance, earned her very first acting motion picture credit with this film. She would remain active having nearly 300 appearances in film and television for the next 51 years until her death. See more »


John Byrne: You must be very, very ill Stephen...
Stephen Byrne: Ill?
See more »


Featured in The Strange Life of Dr. Frankenstein (2018) See more »

User Reviews

"There's a limit to this business of being brothers."
31 December 2005 | by HandlinghandelSee all my reviews

Louis Hayward utters this chilling line. His brother, Lee Bowman, has a physical disability. He has always been loyal to Hayward. But Hayward is looking out for number one -- big time.

I had seen a terrible print of this movie once years ago and figured it to be lesser Fritz Lang. Not so! It is certainly one of the very best of his American movies. It's beautifully filmed, extremely well plotted, and cast superbly.

It is, in summary, a terrifying movie.

The Hayward character is responsible for a killing very early in the plot. He had not intended it, though his motives were not very high in the circumstance causing it. He doesn't care whom he drags down to keep his name clear and finish the book he is writing about the crime.

In addition to excellent performances by Hayward, Bowman, and Jane Wyatt as Hayward's wife, the supporting cast is a dream: Plump Jody Gilbert is pathetic and hateful simultaneously as Bowman's maid. Ann Shoemaker gives a touch of comic relief -- but just a touch -- as a nosy neighbor of Hayward and Wyatt.

Like the best of Lang -- "The Big Heat," "Fury," "M," "Metropolis," and the Mabuse films -- this concerns morality and its lack. There is a Biblical feel to it, as evidenced in the quote from Hayward (Cain) regarding his fine brother Abel/Bowman.

It could scarcely be better than it is.

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Release Date:

25 March 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Floodtide See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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