THE RED HOUSE (BLU-RAY)
Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
Edward G. Robinson
What's it about
A young woman tries to discover the nature of her adopted father’s admonishes to stay out of the woods, and away from the titular red house.
Is it good movie?
Pete and Ellen Morgan took in Meg as their own when her parents abandoned her in her youth. They all live relatively quietly on a farm, until Meg convinces them to hire on Nath, a boy she’s into, as a farm hand. He needs the money, Meg digs him, everyone wins. Except Tibby, Nath’s prickly girlfriend, and Pete, who seems to harbor some secret out in the Oxblood Woods, adjoining his property. There’s a red house out there that he says screams to you in the night, and must be avoided at all costs. Which is exactly the wrong thing to say to teenagers.
Of course the first thing Meg and Nath have to do is go traipsing through the woods in search of the taboo house, and they drag Tibby along. Also in the woods is Teller, a swinging dick with a rifle paid by Pete to protect the woods, and the secret that ultimately comes out. The story is a bit convoluted, and the dialogue and score way overwrought, but I guess at the time (’47) that’s the way you created suspense in a film. The violence towards the end, as well as the truth behind Meg’s parentage, tame by today’s standards, was probably shocking as all get out back then as well.
The whole set up for this film is sort of funny. The red house is in the Oxblood Woods…but it’s a black and white film. Contrary to popular belief, they could have put color in the film in ’47. It was just costly. I was just sort of tickled that a B&W film would center on such a chromatic theme. As I said, the whole thing is excessively dramatic, but it’s worth watching for the cast. Especially a very young Rory Calhoun, and the fact that it’s Ona Munson’s final film. About the best I can say for the cleanup of the original 35mm print, as well as the special features, is that they are serviceable.
Video / Audio
Video: This is about as high def as a 65-year old 35mm print can get. The cleanup job is acceptable, and except for a few random scenes the transfer is crisp.
Audio: DTS: Master Audio 2.0, with optional Spanish subtitles. There is one quick dropout towards the end of the film, but other than that the overbearing score and trite dialogue are clear as a bell.
Audio Commentary with William Hare: Maybe I’m just ignorant, but I have no idea who William Hare is, nor does he ever identify his credentials. He sounds like an older gentlemen, judging by the way he sort of shouts at you. His commentary is mostly telling you what is happening on the screen, which is the most annoying kind.
Other than the commentary, there is the original trailer for the film, and a minute-long side by side comparison of the restoration effort undertaken on the original 35mm print of the 65-year old film.
THE RED HOUSE has a great cast, even if it is not a particularly great film. A decent restoration job was done, but neither that nor the anemic special features really bowled me over. Unless you are particularly a fan of films from this time period, or want to see either the beginning or the end, respectively, of some famous actors’ careers, you are probably safe without this disc.