Fascinating mood piece.
- Secret Beyond the Door review by Steve Mason
Deep and dark Freudian reverie from Lang, richly photographed by Stanley Cortez. Michael Redgrave is an architect who collects historical murder rooms, believing that the ambience of these surroundings induced the deaths that occurred within them. When he marries Joan Bennett on an impulse, she begins to feel that she may have impetuously fallen in love with a psychopath and her life is at risk.
So there's a bit of Rebecca (1940) and Suspicion (1941) in there, but this is more surreal. It is a thriller that operates on the subconscious level of its disturbed hero, full of visual symbolism.
It's also a bit far fetched. But fascinating. The doors and hallways are superbly lit and captured. Lang was disappointed with Stanley Cortez (who would photograph The Night of the Hunter in 1955) because he worked too slowly. But it's the camera that makes this film so evocative, the corridors that Bennett and Redgrave wander in search an irretrievable mental trauma which may be hidden behind one of the many doors.
Redgrave does well in a difficult role as a man driven to murder by an event forgotten in childhood. Apparently Bennett thought the film was a disaster (and it flopped at the box office) but gives a sympathetic and sincere performance. Its fragmentary narrative gives way to the impact of its beautiful, mysterious images. It is a mood piece and a haunting experience, enhanced by Miklós Rózsa superb gothic score.
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