House By the River (1950)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Fritz Lang was the guiding hand of this laudable Republic Studios melodrama. Louis Hayward stars as a wealthy wastrel who tries to seduce the family maid. She resists, and he kills her. Long jealous of his brother Lee Bowman, Hayward does his best to pin the blame for the murder on his sibling. Also affected by Hayward's arrogant dementia is his long-suffering wife Jane Wyatt. Originally, director Lang had proposed that the unfortunate maid be a black woman, and that the killing take place accidentally during some harmless flirtation on Hayward's part. He was vetoed by the timorous Republic staff (even the slightest hint of miscegenation was taboo in 1950), but House by the River turned out pretty well all the same.
Classics , Drama , Horror
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Jane Wyatt
as Marjorie Byrne
Louis Hayward
as Stephen Byrne
Kathleen Freeman
as Effie Ferguson
Howland Chamberlain
as District Attorney
Margaret Seddon
as Mrs. Whittaker
Lee Bowman
as John Byrne
Will Wright
as Inspector Sarten
Jo Gilbert
as Flora Bantam
Dorothy Patrick
as Emily Gaunt
Ann Shoemaker
as Mrs. Ambrose
Peter Brocco
as Coroner
Sarah Padden
as Mrs. Beach
Jody Gilbert
as Flora Bantam
Leslie Kimmell
as Mr. Gaunt
Effie Laird
as Mrs. Gaunt
Howland Chamberlin
as District Attorney
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Critic Reviews for House By the River

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (4)

Its 85 minutes stuffed with shadowy menace, odd magical-realisms (what is it with the jumping fish?), and effortless tension, House by the River is quintessential Lang.

Full Review… | October 15, 2014
Village Voice
Top Critic

House by the River is a fair mystery which lacks sufficient plot twists and suspense.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Top Critic

It's a bleak, gloomy film, one in which the psychological undercurrents seem to be flooding over the banks, drowning any fleeting vestige of rationality in a perverse Teutonic romanticism.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full of Victorian adornments, shadowy lighting and morbid moods, it is a desperate attempt to raise goose-flesh with a standard horror-psychological plot.

Full Review… | March 24, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Making moody use of light and shade, Lang ingeniously involves us more deeply than the plot merits. For all that, it's still very much a B-movie.

Full Review… | October 15, 2014
Radio Times

While House By the River is, at least, a typically interesting Lang film, it suffers from a weak script and uninspired performances that even the director's moody visuals have trouble saving.

Full Review… | October 15, 2014
TV Guide

Audience Reviews for House By the River

"House by the River" is another one of those movies that never answers the oh-so-important question of 'Why should we care?' It's about as boring as you can imagine, underacted and sluggishly scripted. Fritz Lang is a director that I tend to rank above others from his era, but here he just misses the mark.

Stephen Earnest
Stephen Earnest

Super Reviewer

I really enjoyed this melodramatic gothic mystery tale. There aren't many big stars in it, but everyone does a good job. It's exciting and has romance, a lot of drama, and even some laughs. This is a very interesting movie, more like the 40s than 50s, actually. I recommend it.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer


little seen and low budget gothic thriller with louis hayward in a standout performance as a would be novelist and all around sleaze who accidentally kills his maid while making advances to her. instead of reporting it, he talks his reluctant brother into helping him dump the body in the river. big mistake. the film is very entertaining but could've been stronger if lang had been allowed to make the servant black i think. cinematography is grand with long shots down dark corridors and spooky scenes of the river at night. well worth a look

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

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