Guest in the House (1944) - Drama, Film-Noir

Hohum Score



A young manipulative woman moves in with her fiancé's family and turns a happy household against itself.

IMDB: 6.2
Director: John Brahm
Stars: Anne Baxter, Ralph Bellamy
Length: 121 Minutes
PG Rating: N/A
Reviews: 6 out of 36 found boring (16.66%)

One-line Reviews (18)

The wife and kid are soon got rid of and Baxter is finally alone with the extraordinarily dull Bellamy.

Instead, I will review Guest in the House (AKA Satan in Skirts) as an example of what it historically was - a disturbing, suspenseful and unusual film noir.

Entertaining if obvious.

The film or script's slow methodical built-up was very mature and not over-the-top melodramatic as most films were in those days.

Moody photography and haunting music help build the tension, and the result is a psychological drama that is sometimes gripping even if ultimately it is somewhat predictable.

, chalk one up for Aunt Martha - she sends poor old Evelyn over the edge (really, right over) with the missing bird trick there at the finale in a stunning conclusion that leaves an empty guest room at the Proctor's.

In GITH, Evelyn is the new guest who nearly destroys the idyllic existence of a group's mundane lives, including a married couple and their precocious girl.

He seems a little slow to catch on to situations.

The resolution, if one can call it that, at the very end was so unexpected that I simply didn't understand what had happened until I watched the finale twice.

About 85% of the action takes place inside the titular dwelling and while there are nice, suspenseful touches and Lee Garmes' effective cinematography aiding it along, I do not see it being atmospheric in the way we come to identify most noir from the 1940s.

Anyway, it's an occasionally gripping tale of Gothic madness, thanks to some fine ensemble acting (e.

The one shortcoming that I see is the slowness of the family to get what's going on.

What's really great about GUEST IN THE HOUSE is that it's filmed like a fevered dream: the low ceilings, the tight quarters of the house, the claustrophobic quality of the direction, the way Evelyn reads her diary, the atmospheric cinematography and music, all add to an entertaining quasi-Gothic film.

And there was a high-caliber cast involved: Anne Baxter, Aline MacMahon, Ralph Bellamy, Ruth Warrick, Jerome Cowan, Margaret Hamilton, etc. Overall, I enjoyed it despite my thinking I would not.

Perhaps that's why I find it a tad plodding.

This is a rare film unlike all others in its very carefully studied psychology, made almost like a documentary, but at the same time it is a thriller which constantly grows more exciting and has a dramatic climax for a finale with the unexpected reappearance of the bird problem, which is what finally gets the better of the intelligent and expertly manipulative Anne Baxter in one of her most typical and horrible roles, and she is too good at it.

This is melodrama with Gothic overtones and unfortunately has a very slow and boring first third.

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