Secret Beyond the Door... (1947)

Not Rated   |    |  Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery


Secret Beyond the Door... (1947) Poster

When a lovely woman and her new husband settle in an ancient mansion on the East coast, she discovers that he may want to kill her.


6.8/10
3,989

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  • Joan Bennett in Secret Beyond the Door... (1947)
  • Joan Bennett and Michael Redgrave in Secret Beyond the Door... (1947)
  • Joan Bennett in Secret Beyond the Door... (1947)
  • Joan Bennett in Secret Beyond the Door... (1947)
  • Joan Bennett and Michael Redgrave in Secret Beyond the Door... (1947)
  • Joan Bennett and Michael Redgrave in Secret Beyond the Door... (1947)

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User Reviews


5 March 2008 | ackstasis
7
| A distractingly-derivative story tarnishes an otherwise entertaining Fritz Lang psychological thriller
Fritz Lang's creepy and atmospheric psychological thriller, 'Secret Beyond the Door (1948),' faces just one major obstacle that prevents it from being a completely satisfying film experience: the story is quite obviously derived from Hitchcock's 'Rebecca (1940),' which happens to be a superior film in almost every regard. This is not to question the talents or originality of Lang, since, of course, he was already an established director before Hitchcock ever got his break, but you can just tell how much this particular work was influenced by the Master of Suspense. Borrowing elements from the then-prevalent film noir movement, and adding shades of post-marriage paranoia from the likes of 'Rebecca' and Cukor's 'Gaslight (1944),' Lang also mixes in snippets of Freudian psychoanalysis, not unlike what I witnessed last week in Hitchcock's own 'Spellbound (1945).' The final product is not without its charm, and contains various moments of precisely-articulated suspense, but you can never overcome that niggling feeling that you've seen it all done better.

Joan Bennett plays Celia, a young lady who acquires a large amount of money after her brother's death and decides to take a holiday. It is here that she meets Mark Lamphere (Michael Redgrave), a mysterious and charming gentleman who excites in Celia intense suppressed feelings of rebellion and exhilaration. Following their marriage, a hastily-decided proposition that can only lead to trouble, Celia immediately begins to notice peculiarities in her new husband, and, after her arrival at Mark's extravagant residence, she finds the dwelling haunted by the shadow of his previous wife. Mark, it seems, houses an unhealthy preoccupation with murder, and has made a hobby out of collecting entire rooms in which unspeakable atrocities of passion were committed. But what of the one room that is kept securely locked, never to be opened by anyone? Celia concludes that the secret to unlocking the inner depths of her husband's disturbed mind lies within that single room, beyond the forbidden door. Though Silvia Richards' screenplay, from a story by Rufus King, often seems too incredible to take seriously, Lang's film remains an interesting achievement, and is nothing if not entertaining.

I found the promotional material for 'Secret Beyond the Door' to be grossly misleading. The image of Joan Bennett standing before a significantly-distorted door prompted me to expect a film of extreme German Expressionism, in the same vein as 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920).' Fritz Lang, who developed his career in Germany during the 1920s, and having often used elements of the style, would presumably have been very adept at recreating the devilishly-twisted labyrinths of the human mind, but the only scene to even approach my stylistic expectations was the appropriately ambiguous and shadowy dream sequence, in which Michael Redgrave both prosecutes and defends his malevolent tendencies in court {this particular scene may even have influenced Hitchcock's heavily-stylised courtroom trial in 'Dial M for Murder (1954)}. The remainder of the film has the appearance of a typical 1940s film noir, with suitably shadowy cinematography by Stanley Cortez, supplemented by a voice-over by Joan Bennett. Also note the similarity between the character of Miss Robey (Barbara O'Neil) and Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson) from 'Rebecca,' most particularly in their respective final actions in each picture.

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Genres

Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery | Romance | Thriller

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