Secret Beyond the Door - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Secret Beyond the Door Reviews

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November 2, 2010
Fritz Lang's stately noir vision opens in a thick dream pond and ensues to the skillfully rich Mexican knife fight, where the female lead catches the apprehension of death and longing. Her suitor is a sophisticated scion with a hankering for symmetry. They marry in a cathedral immersed in shadows. Awaiting in the husband's residence are a repressive sister, a gnomish son, and the remembrance of a departed wife, together with the recognition that the "felicitous rooms" assembled by Redgrave are in fact extravagant reproductions of crime scenes. The seventh hall is locked.

Lang's intimate breakdown of the Rebecca story visualizes Mrs. Danvers as a saturnine secretary using warped pretenses to guarantee continual employment, not to mention Lang's painstaking surrealism---circle of candles around a wishing well, brick wall behind a velvet curtain---is to the advantage of an dream-like conflict between female and male delusions. The bride's daydream is an hacienda honeymoon with trembling blades, the groom's is a post-modern oration before judge and jury---"You can't try a man for his thoughts!"---both are at the pity of a world floating between the deterministic and the arcane. A work of doorways and passages, facades and shrouds and people unexpectedly too diminutive for the spaces and images they find themselves drifting into.

The opening in Mexico is packed with circular architecture and images: We first see the Mexican church through a semi-circular archway. The wishing well is first seen as a ring of candles. It unites two of Lang's classic images: circles and fire. The wedding ceremony has an important circular wedding ring. Next we see a round fountain. The lovers on the hammock are seen through a semi-circular arch. A pet bird is on a circular ring. A balcony has curves, its railing full of domed ringlets. We also see the heroine on the hammock, against the backdrop of a round portico. After the heroine goes up to her bedroom, the circular imagery essentially ceases. When she runs downstairs in fright, the architecture is principally rectilinear. In the transitory finale, the couple return to Mexico. The heroine has a blanket teeming with circles.

As soon as the film alters its issue to the husband's psychological troubles, the circles vanish. In their place, we see the heroine moving through an elongated rectilinear hallway in the Mexican hotel, searching for her husband. Later at the mansion, there will be several more rectilinear corridor shots. These will often be tense, overflowing with shadows or at night. The rooms have triangular or oblique imagery. Bennett makes circular light when she inspects.

A character gently submits some Freudian shtick at a house party. Soon, a psychology student will earnestly rationalize psychoanalysis, and says it could cure the acute emotional tribulations illustrated by the murders associated with the rooms. The film does wind up giving rather pat Freudian justifications of violence. Controlling mothers and big sisters are seen as the sources of male brutality. This can be regarded as underestimating this issue, and pardoning men of the guilt.

But as a fan of Fritz Lang, film noir and German Expressionism, I was interested less in the soapy plot than the unusually sweeping use of not only the low-key black-and-white moodiness but madly idealistic, geometrically bizarre sets, in company with patterns painted on walls and floors to denote lights, shadows, and objects, doused with symbolism. As in all of his films, Lang's sets and the transparency of their silhouettes form a metaphysics of structural design, which occasionally speaks volumes but is constantly ominous, and meant to illustrate the bare, exposed and elemental core of things.
Super Reviewer
½ October 11, 2010
Considering the year it was made, it is quite a perverse film.
Some great visuals and a very interesting (if not overly complex) premise.
Part of both it's charm and short coming is the horribly dated dialog, but the potential is there for a great film.
September 25, 2010
Interminable tale of an heiress' exploration of a man's motivation behind his hang-ups with, you know, wanting to kill people. Some of it plays like Rebecca, but dull.
Super Reviewer
September 22, 2010
From a story standpoint, Secret Beyond the Door is nothing special. Actually, its pretty damn dull. It's the story of an impetuous marriage where the woman (the beautiful Joan Bennett in this case) gets more than she bargained for. By today's standards it comes off as silly and even predictable. And on top of it all, there are so many elements that could've added to the story so well but instead leaving you needing more. But since Fritz Lang directed Secret Beyond the Door and his visual style makes up for the story's numerous shortcomings, I forgave a lot. So much in the last act was a work of art that by the time you get to the end of this movie with its convenient ending you're just left with torn feelings because you saw something magnificent but had to endure this mundane story to see it. I don't know. See it yourself, make your own call...
May 1, 2010
le point fort du film se resume au somptueux noir et blanc et aux jeux d'ombres mis en valeur pa r Stanley Cortez.
Pour le reste, la voix off est envahissante, l interpretation n est pas convaincante, quant au denouement...
October 1, 2009
The mystery/thriller aspect of this film is pretty entrancing [not unlike some of the poses by the leading lady], and while the plot is ultimately pretty ludicrous, it's pulled off well enough.
September 20, 2009
Qui mieux que Fritz Lang pouvait faire valoir l'heritage de l'expressionnisme allemand dans le film noir hollywoodien. La maison comme metaphore du cerveau au temps ou la psychanalyse representait une inspiration majeure d'Hollywood.
August 17, 2009
Durant la grosse moitié du film, du début jusqu'à l'arrivée de Celia à la maison de son mari, l'ennui a été bien plus fort que le reste. Elle parle, elle parle, elle s'inquiète, la voix-off utilisée m'a passablement ennuyé, racontant des choses que l'on peut deviner uniquement par l'image. L'ambiance a vraiment du mal à s'installer et puis d'un seul coup, tout devient meilleur. Une fois dans la maison, l'inquiétude s'installe beaucoup plus, le suspense aussi. Joan Bennett est incroyable, Lang démontre encore une véritable maîtrise à la mise en scène. Heureusement que la seconde moitié du film est incroyable. Trop inégal, et dans le genre, j'ai beaucoup mieux fonctionné à House by the river. Toutefois, l'oeuvre démontre que chaque homme possède des pulsions qui le pousseraient à tuer. Tout le monde a déjà pensé un jour à tuer quelqu'un.
½ June 10, 2009
Voici un film qui a l'air quand même vachement plus cool quand on se fie au matériel promotionnel. La haute porte tordue à l'apparence expressionniste ne figure toutefois pas dans le film, et le "secret" que recèle son homologue ne frappe pas comme il devrait, suscitant plutôt chez le spectateur une sorte de "ah, ok."

Soyons quand même justes, si ce film n'est pas mémorable au niveau du scénario (un émule du "Rebecca" de Hitchcock avec quelques éléments de Barbe-Bleue), Lang s'en tire quand même avec quelques bons moments au niveau de l'ambiance et de la direction photo, et ce surtout dans les scènes finales qui sont d'un esthétisme exemplaire.

Le film souffre toutefois d'une tare si fréquente dans les films américains de Lang qu'elle est presque devenue ludique: une finale décevante et précipitée. Le spectateur pourra toutefois pardonner le cinéaste qui se fait visiblement imposer des fins joyeuses par les studios. Un film incontournable pour les enthousiastes langiens, mais honnêtement négligeable pour le cinéphile moyen.
March 28, 2009
Quand la psychanalyse alimentait les scenarios hollywoodiens... Reste que Lang n'etait pas un manchot.
½ January 31, 2009
This is solid psychological thriller produced and directed by Fritz Lang. It features fine performances by the whole cast, an intriguing screenplay, with overtones of the Bluebeard legend, which keeps the twists and turns coming and a typically effective score by Miklos Rosza.
½ January 28, 2009
descubrir con quien se ha casado que extraño pero un buen punto de partida para una buena película
½ September 29, 2008
Le mythe de Barbe-bleue revisité par Fritz Lang...Belle photographie et tension sous-jacente tout au long de ce chef-d'oeuvre.
September 16, 2008
A dark, complex and atmospheric film about love and death. Lang plays with the expressionist atmosphere of the film to better evoke the deep psychology of the two main characters. It's impossible not to recall Hitchcock's 'Rebecca' while watching this film, right through the creepy 'secretary' and ghostly presence of the dead wife. Bennett plays her character as self-sufficient, dedicated, and powerful as she seeks to unravel her husband's tortured pathology in an attempt to save him (and herself). Some genuinely suspenseful moments give way to a slightly strange denouement that nonetheless fulfills the film's complex psychological trajectory. My one objection must be the pervasive voiceover that runs through too much of the film, limiting some of the power of the actors (both the leads are superb) by describing and characterizing too much of the scene. It was as though Lang did not trust the strength of his visuals to adequately convey the film's narrational complexity. But a completely enjoyable film, very satisfying, with a lot more going on under the surface than even the film itself acknowledges.
August 9, 2008
An enjoyable minor Lang film with a good but implausible story that has enough suspense to keep you interested. Having seen many of Lang's influences on Hitchcock, it was intriguing to see Lang imitating Hitchcock. I wonder if the direct references to REBECCA and SPELLBOUND were meant as a spoof?
May 11, 2008
This is a reassessment of Hitchcock work -Rebecca-. I have to say, that the re-elaboration is less strong than Hitch s. But the actress Joan Bennet is clearly more beautiful than the other Joan (Fontaine), and also the outfits are more tasteful than Rebeccas, except for an horrid fur-boa.
I dont understand why Celia (J. Bennet) loves this guy, a certain Mark so much. She does not care about Mark attempts to assassinate her. Because she says -without your love Im dead all the same-. Fuck you Mark!
In Celias shoes I would have escaped the very first night. But the fault of Marks Bluebeard syndrome is of his sister.
When they discover that, after a psychoanalytic session led by Celia, where the patient Mark is ready to strangle this makeshift Freud. And after a fire, set by Mrs. Sister. In the castle where Mark collects famous uxoricides rooms.
May 1, 2008
Nice creepy noir with a very unique plot.
February 28, 2008
a freudian tale of love and obsession. the constant narration in this film is annoying and superfluous, seemingly only there to serve as an aggrandizement of the otherwise tepid scenes. the story grows in strength as it continues though, with michael redgrave giving a truly chilling portrayal of mark. the whole film feels a little melodramatic, but it has some merits. points for the score and cinematography
January 28, 2008
Beautiful, mastered, a different Fritz Lang, but still Fritzy !!
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