Movie Diary 1/28/2018

houseinmarshroadWhite Cradle Inn (aka High Fury, Harold French, 1947). A French war orphan lives with a Swiss couple at their small-town Alpine villa. The kid is supposed to be sent back to France, but wife Madeleine Carroll wants to adopt him; layabout husband Michael Rennie (looking even leaner and hungrier than usual) hates the kid but wants the wife to sign over ownership of the inn to him in exchange for the adoption. It all climaxes high up in the mountains during a climbing expedition, as any self-respecting Swiss story must. Good brisk storytelling and jaw-dropping locations. Rennie is a real rat. From the director of Secret Mission.

The House in Marsh Road (Montgomery Tully, 1960). Another one about a louse husband coveting his wife’s inherited house. Here it’s boozy would-be novelist Tony Wright plotting against wife Patricia Dainton, not realizing the old house they’ve moved into is haunted by a protective poltergeist. (Is there a faint echo of The Shining lurking in the background here?) Hubby works in tandem with the “secretary” he hires to type his novel; she’s played by Sandra Dorne, fondly recalled as the bored wife in Roadhouse Girl (aka Marilyn). Sadly, the ghost’s behavior mostly consists of moving an armchair back and forth and smashing a mirror, and tedium mostly prevails.

Crow Hollow (Michael McCarthy, 1952). After a whirlwind romance, new bride Natasha Parry is taken by small-town doctor Donald Houston to his family estate (it’s called Crow Hollow, as you may have guessed), despite someone telling her UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU GO TO CROW HOLLOW. The rambling old estate is lorded over by the husband’s three eccentric aunts, who have a weird obsession with attractive and insolent young housekeeper Pat Owens. Quicker than you can say “Get Out,” strange things begin happening to the bride, which are fairly easy to guess once the film introduces a giant hairy spider, a poison mushroom, and a bottle of strychnine. Still, this 70-minute picture moves right along and looks great, with lots of strong compositional set-ups and dire mood-setting. Natasha Parry also appeared in Midnight Lace and the Zefferelli Romeo and Juliet, and was married for over 60 years to Peter Brook.

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