Secret Beyond the Door (1947): Fritz Lang’s Film Noir, Starring Joan Bennett and Michael Redgrave

Fritz Lang directed Secret Beyond the Door, a psychological noir thriller, sort of modern updating of the Bluebeard fairytale.

Made by Lang’s Diana Productions, the film was produced by Walter Wanger, who was then married to star Joan Bennett.

The black-and-white film noir was expertly shot by

The tale is a variation on the theme of a woman who suspects that her new husband plans to kill her.

Architect Mark Lamphere turns strange shortly after his honeymoon with bride Celia, who begins to realize that Mark has many secrets

It’s revealed that he was married before, that his wife had died suspiciously and they have a son. He also has a fiercely loyal secretary, Miss Robey, whose face is disfigured.

Is he intending to murder Celia inside a room he keeps locked.

The disturbed Miss Robey ends up setting fire to the house, whereupon Mark redeems himself in Celia’s eyes by saving her life.

Inevitable comparisons were made with Hitchcock’s superior thriller Rebecca, which won the 1940 Best Picture Oscar, due to the similar themes and motifs (including fire).

But the movie was a commercial flop, claiming a loss of $1,145,000.

Cast

Joan Bennett as Celia Lamphere
Michael Redgrave as Mark Lamphere
Anne Revere as Caroline Lamphere
Barbara O’Neil as Miss Robey
Natalie Schafer as Edith Potter
Paul Cavanagh as Rick Barrett
Anabel Shaw as Intellectual Sub-Deb

 

Credits:

Produced and directed by Fritz Lang
Screenplay by Silvia Richards, based on story by Rufus King
Music by Miklós Rózsa
Cinematography: Stanley Cortez
Edited by Arthur Hilton
Walter Wanger Productions; Diana Production Company
Distributed by Universal
Release date: December 25, 1947
Running time: 99 minutes