Friday, September 11, 2015

The House on Telegraph Hill (1951)

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“You think it's easy to kill somebody? It takes time and patience and a strong stomach.”

            What is it about old houses or stories of mistaken identity or when someone takes another person’s identity that seems to be put into films so much? To me stories of old houses have to be well made and really thought about because to me their all the same and stories dealing with mistaken or taking of identity are boring as hell and rarely seem to work. The House on Telegraph Hill has both of those and needless to say I was bored.
            Victoria Kowalska was a prisoner at the German camp Belsen. She lost her husband and the rest of her family has also been killed. In the prison she befriends a woman named Karin Dernakova. Karin has told Victoria all about her life and how she had to have her young son Christopher smuggled out of Poland to an aunt of hers living in San Francisco so he would be safe. She has not seen her son since he was a baby nine years ago. Victoria does everything she can to keep Karin alive but all her efforts fail and Karin dies just before the camp is liberated. Victoria sees Karin’s death as an opportunity for herself to leave Europe for a better life in America. She takes the dead woman’s papers and assumes her identity.
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            After the liberation Victoria is interviewed by Major Marc Bennett. He does not even question Victoria when she shows him Karin’s papers as her own nor when he finds her actual papers with her real name and information on it. Victoria is placed into a displaced person’s camp for a few years and in that time tries to communicate with Karin’s aunt. Through the aunt’s lawyers she finds out the aunt has died and that Christopher has put into the care of a guardian named Alan Spender.
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            A refugee brings passengers to New York City. Victoria is one of them. As soon as she arrives in New York she looks up the aunt’s lawyers and Alan Spender. Alan is a little cold to her at first but this being a Old Hollywood film Victoria and Alan fall in love and get married. He takes her out to San Francisco where Christopher has been living with a woman named Margaret at the aunt’s old house on Telegraph Hill.
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            Trying to be suspenseful it is not long until Victoria begins to feel uncomfortable in the house. She feels as though someone is always watching her or trying to do her harm. She also finds out that Marc Bennett is a friend and law partner of Alan’s and when she feels her life is being threatened she confides in him.
            In the end Alan is an evil bastard. As the aunt’s lawyer he knew she had a lot of money so he was very nice to her and became close with Christopher so he could become his guardian. If something were to happen to Christopher he would inherit all the money. When Victoria came along after hearing that Karin had died she messed up his whole plan. Of course he tries to kill her and of course he tells her the whole plan. In a fantastic twist of fate he tries to poison Victoria with sleeping pills by putting an insane amount into some orange juice.  Since she does not trust him she does not drink it and he winds drinking it himself.

            Since I like the Noir genre I had heard of The House on Telegraph Hill. It seemed to have a kind of interesting plot. You would think I would know better since I do not really care for films that deal with identities being taken or whatever that I would not watch them. Apparently I never learn but when it comes to Film Noir I feel compelled to watch them since I love the genre so much. The acting was not bad at all. I have never heard or seen any of the actors in it at all. I just think the story for me got boring almost as soon as Victoria arrived in America. The House on Telegraph Hill is a good film despite what I may think of the story and it worth watching at least once if you like classic Noir films.
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