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VERY INTERESTING , so i'll giver it a 4 stars, maybe ore later. RICHARD BASEHART again!!
Excellent drama and suspense. Way better than the two stars the critics gave it. Many twists and turns right up until the end.
Valentina Cortese plays a Polish concentration camp survivor who adopts the identity of a friend who died in the camp in order to have a better life in San Francisco (the friend had told of a rich aunt who was caring for her young son sent overseas to avoid the Holocaust). However, she soon learns that the aunt is dead and her attempts to connect with the orphaned son are spurned by the lawyers for the new guardian; however, when she travels to New York, she meets the guardian, Alan Spender (Richard Baseheart), who soon ends up proposing to her. As a couple, they return to San Francisco where an unfriendly governess awaits them along with the son who soon warms to his returned "mother" (who he doesn't remember). Pretty soon, however, Victoria/Karin (Cortese) starts to suspect that someone is trying to murder her AND the son. It could be the governess ... or the husband/guardian (who stands to inherit the fortune which was left to the son). Director Robert Wise manages the production well but the script really lets him down. Although suspense is generated by the possible threats against Victoria/Karin and ambiguity about whether she is just paranoid IS created, the fact that her identity theft is simply disregarded and has no implications for the plot at all (despite Victoria revealing that she is not really Karin to a US Major from the liberation team) is bizarre. In other words, the film sets up a premise that is never fulfilled in the action. All that said, the film isn't a bad noir melodrama.
Suspenseful film noir with a unique angle.
He wants to get rid of me.
Victoria Kowelska is a concentration camp survivor that takes the identity of a best friend when she gets released and joins a family, including her husband and child, on a large estate in San Francisco. Shortly after arriving a murderous plot unfolds in front of her and she quickly realizes her life is at risk. She partners with an old friend in hopes of saving her own life.
"Don't go in there."
"Is there something you don't want me to see?"
"No. But it is dangerous."
Robert Wise, director of The Sound of Music, West Side Story, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Andromeda Strain, The Haunting (1963), and The Sand Pebbles, delivers The House on Telegraph Hill. The storyline for this picture is amazing and very well written. The character interactions are perfect and well delivered. The cast delivers very compelling performances and includes Richard Basehart, Valentina Cortese, William Lundigan, and Fay Baker.
"We weren't immediate family...more like poor relations."
I came across this classic when it was recently added to Netflix. This was way better than I thought it would be. There are very intense sequences between the child and Victoria and the settings and sequences are well delivered. I strongly recommend catching this gem.
"He's trying to kill me."
Underrated film noir mystery directed by the truly great Robert Wise who must have loved creepy houses on hills because he later directed The Haunting (of Hill House). Valentina Cortese is especially good among the solid cast. Lots of plot twists and turns to keep you interested.
HOUSE ON TELEGRAPH HILL is a total winning surprise! What starts off as a serious examination of a Nazi death camp survivor begins to spin into a melodrama with far too much voice over and explanation. BUT then the film becomes a totally nail biting suspense film combining elements of film noir, horror, and melodrama. A tougher directorial hand like a Fritz Lang would have made this killer but HOUSE ON TELEGRAPH HILL is a wonderful surprise from Fox Retro.
Put aside some of the heavy music typical to movies of this era and you find a well done mystery.
Strange combination of the post-concentration camp story and the suspenseful murder story -- not sure they both belong in the same film. But, love the tension and drama!
The House on Telegraph Hill (Robert Wise, 1951)
What, exactly, does one call a movie from the age of film noir that obviously wants to be a piece of noir, but doesn't quite make it? This is the problem I find in trying to review The House on Telegraph Hill, Robert Wise's fine...um...crime drama? Mystery/thriller? I don't know. But I know it isn't noir. And the really frustrating bit is that I can't tell you where the film breaks the rules, because that would be a spoiler. (Though if you know noir, my very saying that is probably enough to give the game away.) But it's a minor point anyway; whatever you end up calling this movie, it's quite a good one. Not as well-known as any number of Wise's other films, but as good as, if not better than, many of those for which he is more recognized (West Side Story, the first Star Trek film, The Andromeda Strain...). Wise released two movies in 1951: this and The Day the Earth Stood Still. That's a year any director could be justifiably proud of.
Plot: Victoria Kowelska (Valentina Cortese, from the 1948 adaptation of Les Miserables) is an inmate at Belsen concentration camp during World War II. She befriends another Polish prisoner, Karen Dernakova (Comrade X's Natasha Lytess, better known for being Marilyn Monroe's acting coach than for any of her own screen roles), who has family in America and the papers to prove it. When Karen dies during Belsen's liberation, Victoria, broke, hungry, and desperate for a new life, switches papers with her and heads for America. When she gets there, she's confronted by a lawyer retained by distant-cousin-by-marriage Alan Spender (La Strada's Richard Basehart-who would end up marrying Valentina Cortese by the time filming wrapped) challenging her identity; it seems she and her husband had been reported dead some time before. She manages to convince Spender that she had not, in fact, died (after all, during the period Karen was supposed to be dead, the two of them were swapping life stories in Belsen), and Spender reveals that Victoria-now-Karen is no longer broke at all-in fact, she's quite wealthy. The two of them get hitched and move out to the family pile in San Francisco, from which the film derives its name. Victoria meets Karen's now-nine-year-old son Christopher (Holiday Affair's Gordon Gebbert, a child star whose career would be over by 1960), and the three of them form what would seem to be the perfect family, though the family governess Margaret (Notorious' Fay Baker) seems somewhat nonplussed, perhaps even jealous, that Christopher's mother has stepped back into his life. (You can see the problem here.) Soon after, Victoria becomes convinced that Alan means to do her harm, and turns to local lawyer Marc Bennett (The Sea Hawk's William Lundigan), a mmeber of the team who liberated from Belsen and Victoria's only acquaintance in San Francisco outside the family, for help.
It's got everything you expect-or should expect-from a Robert Wise film. The script is nicely-produced, if a bit stock now and again, and it is delivered very nicely by good actors who have just a little more wrung out of them than usual. Cinematographer Lucien Ballard (The Wild Bunch) makes it all look great, the soundtrack is just right, etc. Well-plotted, well-paced, enjoyable if predictable; The House on Telegraph Hill is a good one if you're looking for a quality thriller. *** 1/2