This is a film that shows revenge sometimes isn't as futile as one might think.
I wish someone else had done the commentary.
House of Strangers is a revenge thriller among men who all hail from the same family. Max Monetti (Richard Conte) is released from prison after doing a seven year stretch. To compound problems, he did the time because he was double-crossed by his brothers. In noir films, things are never that simple as he has to contend with two women who love him. The standout performances come from Conte and Edward G. Robinson who plays the father of the family, Gino Monetti. Like a lot of noir films, there are twists and turns but where this movie works is in it's ability to study the relationships that make up this film.
Clocking in at 100 minutes, House of Strangers is a tightly woven movie that has held up well over time.
Film Historian and Author Foster Hirsch has been tapped to the do the commentary and I was disappointed from the word go. Hirsch speaks in terms that are too cerebral for my tastes. He is given to long moments of silence and when he does talk it's almost in mathematical terms. On top of that, he tells us precisely what we are seeing on the screen and that is never good.
This DVD contains a Poster Gallery, Production Stills Gallery and Unit Production Gallery. This assortment of pictures is easily viewable via your remote, and it shows off a nice batch of photos from the film, it's production and it's release. My favorite part was the Poster Gallery because I love the look of the older one sheets.
Full Frame - 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio. Aside from the occasional moire pattern showing up do to a part of someone's outfit, this film from 1949 looks pretty good. The whites are white and the blacks are black, and there is a nice, stark use of contrast applied to every facet of this film's images.
English - Stereo and Mono. Subtitled in English and Spanish. Close Captioned. It amazes me how good this older movie sounds. When you realize that House of Strangers is almost 60 years old, it stands to reason that some of the audio assets might not have held up over time. The audio on this film is quite solid and because of that all the biting dialogue is just as sharp.
The front cover of this DVD is actually comprised of two covers; almost. We get a one sheet of House of Strangers which features Robinson, Conte and Susan Hayward. Behind that is an assortment of images from the show which continue on into the back cover. On the back is a description, some more images, a Special Features listing, a cast list and technical specs.
It could be because I am a fan of black and white TV shows and movies, but I really was able to get into House of Strangers. I keyed into the characters and the situations, but what I really enjoyed was the dialogue. Films from the 1930s to the 1950s didn't have much in the way of effects, so what they relied on most was sizzling dialogue. They reveled in ways to give all the main characters sound bytes for entering or leaving the room. As a result, though times may change, films like House of Strangers show that dialogue holds up long after everything else fades.
House of Strangers was released July 1, 1949.