When people talk about classic noir films, I have to say that I have never heard the title The Red House mentioned. To take that a step further, I had ne'er heard of the film to begin with. I suspect that probably says more about my knowledge of older films than it does the pantheon of great films. I guess it is better to be a little late to the party than to not have made it at all, right? There are countless classics, known and unknown that I have yet to discover and I must say that while The Red House may never be counted among my favorites, it is certainly a solid film that is definitely worth spending some time with.
The film was originally released in 1947 and stars Edward G. Robinson. Robinson is a fine actor, although I am most familiar with him in gangster and tough guy roles, words that cannot be used to describe him here. I am learning that he was a rather versatile performer who worked in many genres, including science fiction (his final film was 1972's Soylent Green). With The Red House, Robinson plays a man with a secret that is pushing him ever closer to the edge.
The Red House is a slowly paced noir film that also plays as a coming of age tale, a thriller, and an atmospheric horror film and is effective when viewed trough any of these filters. Set in a time just after the Second World War, we are given a look at a country in a state of change, the way people lived and interacted was changing as the country grew. This movie gives us a little look at the bubbling conflict between the old ways and the new within the framework of a secret hidden for many years that is about to burst forth and affect the lives of everyone caught in its wake.
The film opens, voice over telling us of the changing countryside, the introduction of roads, and a changing way of life. We meet our characters just as secrets of the past and eyes for the future are about to collide.