House by the River 1950 ★★★½

It's hardly surprising, if you happened to have the back catalogue that Fritz Lang had as director, that there would be a fair few forgotten gems in that catalogue. House By The River is certainly one of them.

Louis Hayward plays a down on his luck writer who, in a fit of inebriation and being dazzled by her admittedly shapely legs coming down his stairs, murders his house maid and somehow ropes his dope of a brother, Lee Bowman, into helping to get rid of her.

Hayward is absolutely superb in the lead role - a totally convincing utter, utter bastard who becomes gradually more smug as the film progresses as his brother becomes the fall guy. It's a performance of tremendous subtlety that drives the film towards a, unfortunately, slightly daft and surprisingly hasty climax.

One or two plot strands go nowhere, too, with a pencil deliberately flicked off a desk at the murder inquest being the most puzzling moment. No, really. One character that is seemingly about to become prominent in the story strangely disappears out of view as well.

Despite that, it's still a classy noirish thriller that goes to show that even when Lang was not operating anywhere near his best, he could still knock out films better than most out there.

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