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
Usually seen in bit parts, Jody Gilbert has a major supporting role as Flora Bantam the servant girl. See more »
Stephen... I can't go through with this.
You promised to stay up there.
Listen to me. The only thing to do is go to the police. Tell then exactly how it happened. It was an accident.
But, they'll never believe me. Even you don't believe me!
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House by the River is something of an anomaly; it's more of an old-dark-house Gothic than the grittier dramas, from Fury to Beyond A Reasonable Doubt, which Fritz Lang made in his American period. (The location of this house is a worrisome and amateurism anomaly, too; the conventions, milieu and some of the accents suggests that it's an English country estate, but much else argues that the film takes place in the U.S.) Would-be writer Louis Hayward, getting flirtatious with the maid in the absence of his wife (Jane Wyatt), accidently strangles her when she resists his advances. His brother (Lee Bowman) reluctantly agrees to cover up for him and help sink the body in the sinister, ever-present river that runs by the edge of the property; the resulting scandal of the disappeared servant bolsters the writer's flagging career. When suspicion begans to gather around his innocent brother, Hayward, by now seriously demented, couldn't be more pleased. But then Wyatt comes across a hidden manuscript; Hayward (you see), flushed by his phoney success, resolves to write "what he knows...."
Edward Cronjager's heavily shaded cinematography and Georges Anthiel's brooding score help fill out Lang's dark, clammy vision, making the river -- forever disgorging its flotsam and jetsam -- a principal character in the action. House by the River is a good old-fashioned thriller, particularly in its Gothic closing scenes, but it's not in a class with Lang's films at the top of his American form, like Scarlet Street, The Big Heat or Human Desire.
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