House of Numbers (1957): Rouse’s Film Noir, Starring Jack Palance in Dual Role

Produced by Charles Schnee and directed by Russell Rouse (who also wrote the script), House of Numbers is a film noir, based on author Jack Finney’s 1957 novel of the same name.

Jack Palance, usually typecast as villain and in secondary roles, plays the lead or rather leads.  The movie is based on the gimmick strategy of the same actor playing two siblings, one good, the other bad (Bette Davis made several of those features).

Palance two similar-looking brothers: Bill and his younger brother Arnie Judlow. Bill is a good citizen, trying to help his ex-professional boxer brother, Arnie, convicted of murder, escape from San Quentin State Prison to return to Arnie’s wife, Ruth.

Arnie Judlow  is an imprisoned gangster. During a prison visit, Bill Judlow, his law-abiding brother, switches places, allowing himself to be incarcerated as the real criminal walks free. Ruth Judlow (Barbara Lang), wife of one of the Judlow boys, wavers in her loyalties.

The movie was impressively shot by Oscar winner George J. Folsey on location at San Quentin and Mill Valley, California, where author Finney resided at the time.

Made on a decent budget, with good production values, this MGM film was nonetheless a commercial flop.


Jack Palance as Arnie Judlow / Bill Judlow
Harold J. Stone as Henry Nova – Prison Guard
Edward Platt as The Warden
Barbara Lang as Mrs. Ruth Judlow
Frank Watkins as Brother


Black and white

Running time: 90 minutes.

Release date: September 12, 1957