Red House, The (1947): Delmer Daves’ Psychological Noir Thriller, Starring Edward G. Robinson, Lon McCallister, Judith Anderson, Rory Calhoun

One night, Nath is struck from behind and knocked down into a stream. He returns to the farm believing that Pete hit him, but Meg and Ellen say Pete has been in the room with them since Nath left.

Pete has secretly given local handyman and petty thug Teller rights to hunt on the land contingent that he keeps everyone else off of the property.

Lon McCallister, Allene Roberts, Edward G. Robinson, Judith Anderson in The Red House

Pete is furious that both young people defied his warning to stay out of the woods and he fires Nath, banishing him from the farm and from seeing Meg again.

Gradually, Pete begins to crack up. He starts calling Meg Jeannie, and becomes controlling and domineering.

Ellen decides to burn the red house down to end Pete’s obsession. As she walks through the woods, Teller, mistaking her for Nath, shoots her.

Spoiler Alert

At the climax of this murky psychological thriller, Pete has gone completely out of his mind, thinking that Meg is actually Jeannie, leaving him again. He begins to relive the experience, suffocating her.

When Nath and the sheriff show up, Pete takes off in his truck, and drives into the icehouse, drowning as the truck sinks in the large pond formed by the melted ice.

The final, rather hopeful scene shows Nath and Meg, talking about their new life together as they watch smoke from the red house, which Nath has burned down in keeping with Ellen’s wishes.

Production values are good, especially Miklos Rozsa’s emotionally macabre music.

Critical Status: Legacy

The film was highlighted in episode 1 of Scorsese’s documentary, A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies.

Edward G. Robinson as Pete Morgan
Lon McCallister as Nath Storm
Judith Anderson as Ellen Morgan
Rory Calhoun as Teller
Allene Roberts as Meg Morgan
Julie London as Tibby Rinton
Ona Munson as Mrs. Storm
Harry Shannon as Dr. Jonathan Byrne
Arthur Space as The Sheriff
Pat Flaherty as Motorcycle Cop (uncredited)
Walter Sande as Don Brent (uncredited)