Wednesday, January 19, 2022

What is the mystery surrounding "The Red House?"

The Red House (1947) is a mystery written and directed by Delmer Daves and starring Edward G. Robinson, Lon McCallister, and Judith Anderson. The film score is by Miklos Rozsa. Others in the cast include Rory Calhoun, Julie London, and Allene Roberts.

The film centers around brother and sister Pete (Robinson) and Ellen Morgan, and their adopted daughter Meg (Roberts). Because of their reclusive ways, rarely leaving their farm, the Morgans are the subject of gossip. Meg and her relationship with Pete and Ellen is also a subject that is whispered about among her schoolmates. Pete warns Meg not to wander alone in the woods near their farm and he also warns her to stay away from a mysterious red house.

Meg and schoolmate Nath (McCallister), out of curiosity, go in search of the red house. What secret will the red house reveal and how will it affect Pete, Ellen, and Meg.

Lon McCallister, Allene Roberts, Edward G. Robinson

Delmer Daves (1904 - 1977) was an American writer, producer, and director. He worked in many genres including film noir, but he may be best remembered for his westerns. Broken Arrow (1950) starred James Stewart and Debra Paget, one of the first westerns to feature a Native American protagonist. During his career, Daves worked with many top stars from Hollywood's Golden age including Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Glenn Ford, Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Gene Tierney, Susan Hayward, Cary Grant, and Richard Widmark. Daves is responsible for some of the most popular movies of the 1940s and 1950s like Destination Tokyo (1943), The Pride of the Marines (1945), 3:10 to Yuma (1957), and A Summer Place (1959).

Edward G. Robinson (1893 – 1973) was an American actor on the stage and screen. Robinson is a true legend from Hollywood’s Golden Age where he starred in the gangster classic Little Caesar (1931), Kid Galahad (1937), Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939), The Sea Wolf (1941), Double Indemnity (1944), and Key Largo (1948). Robinson was awarded an Honorary Academy Award in 1973, but he was never nominated for a competitive Oscar.

Lon McCallister (1923 - 2005) was an American film actor who was a popular star during the 1940s. McCallister was mostly cast as the youthful hero in films like Home in Indiana (1944) and Winged Victory (1944). Columnist Hedda Hopper called him "the cutest boy the movies have hauled up out of obscurity since Mickey Rooney." At only 5' 6", McCallister had difficulty finding movie roles as he grew older. He eventually worked in television but retired from acting in 1953. After his acting career ended, McCallister became a successful real estate investor.

Judith Anderson (1897 - 1992) was an Australian actress who was a star stage, film, and television. Anderson left Australia for a career in the United States. After a period of struggle, she made a name for herself on the Broadway stage in Strange Interlude (1929) replacing Lynn Fontaine. She starred in As You Desire  (1931) and The Old Maid (1935). With her success in the film Rebecca (1940), Anderson's career got a boost. She continued to work in film throughout the remainder of her career appearing in Laura (1944), Pursued (1947), The Ten Commandments (1956), A Man Called Horse (1970), and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984).

The Red House trivia
  • The film was produced by Thalia Productions, a production company owned by Edward G. Robinson and producer Sol Lesser.
  • The novel on which the film is based was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post in 1945. 
  • This was the film debut of Allene Roberts (Meg).
  • The Red House was Rory Calhoun's second credited film role.

To watch the film on YouTube, click on the link below.

To join the discussion on January 24, 2022, at 6:30 p.m. Central Time click here. Once you RSVP, you will receive an invitation and link to join the discussion on Zoom.

Discussion questions:
  1. What genre do you think this film fits? Is it a mystery, horror, psychological thriller, film noir? 
  2. Do you think the film narrative is realistic?
  3. Did the film have an overall message or theme?
  4. Was there a scene that stood out to you?
  5. Is there a character and/or performance that stood out to you?

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