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House of Strangers [DVD] - Limited Edition [1949]

Edward G. Robinson , Susan Hayward , Joseph L. Mankiewicz    Parental Guidance   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 14.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Edward G. Robinson, Susan Hayward, Richard Conte
  • Directors: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
  • Format: Dolby, PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Odeon Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 12 Nov 2012
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008RX0Y62
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 74,077 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

Edward G Robinson won the 1949 Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival for his powerhouse performance as a domineering Italian father in this gripping drama directed by four times Oscar winner Joseph L. Mankiewicz* Gino Monetti (Edward G Robinson) is a self made man, an Italian immigrant who has dragged himself up from the slums of New York to be president of his own bank. The struggle has made him hard and bitter alienating him from three of his sons. Monetti is still close to his fourth son Max (Richard Conte), a sharp lawyer with an even sharper society girlfriend (Susan Hayward). As Monetti s banking empire begins to crumble, tensions within the family reach boiling point and thoughts turn to revenge and murder... An explosive drama with a distinctly Film Noir appeal, House of Strangers has been digitally restored and remastered for its first ever DVD UK release. LIMITED EDITION. The Silver Screen Collection is a strictly limited and numbered edition of 2000 copies.


Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost Perfect Strangers 31 Jan 2009
Format:DVD
A truly great film - just missing out on that elusive fifth star. A fantastic cast; Edward G Robinson, Richard Conte, Susan Hayward and legendary US stage actor Luther Adler giving arguably the best performance of the lot. Italian-born banker Gino Moretti(Edward G) has 4 sons, one of whom Max(Conte) is his favourite. Just watch Adler's eyes burn with envy, repressed anger and eventually hatred as the film progresses - a master class! The family splits up into 2 camps - father and favourite son versus the other brothers. It culminates in a tense, violent climax in the 'old house'between Max and his brothers. Beautifully written, shot, performed - Robinson and Hayward were rarely better, Conte and Adler give career-best performances -and scored. Classic Noir. As Max Moretti would say. "A great film.Period."

Remade in the 50's as a Western with Spencer Tracy in the Edward G role.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Monetti and his spaghetti 30 Jun 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Edward G Robinson (Gino Monetti) is head of a bank and a family of four sons, three of whom work for him, but none of whom are shown any respect by him. The only son he seems to value is Richard Conte who has his own legal practice, albeit with dodgy customers. One of his customers is Susan Hayward (Irene) who gets the love interest role.

Robinson rules as a dictator. although he does have a funny scene where he compares the old world to the new world, and his business practices come under investigation. As a result of this, Conte tries to protect him but doesn't get very far. The majority of the film is told in flashback, on either side of which we follow Conte as he seeks out his mission of revenge to those who encouraged the downfall of his father.

Keep a look out for the best plate of spaghetti ever filmed. Robinson presides over his family every Wednesday evening when they are required to attend a family meal. They take their places around the table, sit in silence and wait for everyone to arrive before they can start to eat while listening to Robinson's opera records at a volume of 3 million decibels. On this particular occasion, they wait for Conte to arrive. It's a strained atmosphere but definitely worth the wait when that pasta shows up.

The film gets you involved in a family drama that throws in an un-anticipated end sequence that pushes the story to another level. It's an entertaining film that emphasizes dialogue and drama more than action. All the cast do well with a special mention to oldest brother Luther Adler (Joe). Not sure why Susan Hayward is billed above Richard Conte, though.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Spike Owen TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
House of Strangers is directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and adapted to screenplay by Phillip Yordan from Jerome Weidman's novel I'll Never Go There Any More. It stars Edward G. Robinson, Susan Hayward, Richard Conte, Luther Adler, Paul Valentine and Efrem Zimbalist. Plot finds Robinson as Gino Monetti, an Italian American banker who whilst building up the family business has ostracised three of his four sons. When things go belly up for Gino and the bank, the three sons turn against their father, the other, Max (Conte), stays loyal but finds himself set up for a prison stretch. Untimely since he's started to fall in love with tough cookie Irene Bennett (Hayward).

Jerome Weidman's novel has proved to be a popular source for film adaptation, after this 20th Century Fox produced picture came the Western version with Broken Lance in 1954 (Yordan again adapting), and then Circus set for The Big Show in 1961. While its influence can be felt in many other, more notable, crime dramas along the way. The divided clan narrative provides good basis for drama and lets the better actors shine on the screen with such material. Such is the case with House of Strangers, which while hardly shaking the roots of film noir technically, does thematically play out as an engrossing, character rich, melodrama.

Propelled by a revenge core peppered with hate motives instead of love; and dabbling in moral ethics et al, Mankiewicz spins it out in flashback structure. The primary focus is on Max and Gino, with both given excellent portrayals by Conte and Robinson. Gino is a driven man, very dismissive towards three of his boys (Adler standing out as Joe) who he finds easy to find fault with.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars House of Strangers 6 Jan 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Great movie and cast,all giving strong performances,glad to see it on dvd,the film Starring Mr Edward G. Robinson and Miss Susan Hayward, I recommend this movie.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  44 reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must, despite the pallid commentary 17 Jun 2006
By J. W. Hickey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This is a film I'd only caught TV fragments of, decades ago. I'd watched enough back then to know I wanted to add it to my home collection, but I held off buying the videotape version because the video was available at an outrageously high price. I've come to appreciate the voiceover commentaries Fox provides on many of its re-releases so, when Fox announced it was making a reasonably priced DVD of it available, I pre-ordered it a month before its release. The movie itself is excellent in every respect. The commentary, though, is not up to the usual Fox standards.

The commentary complains that Susan Hayward's character doesn't fit the femme fatale prototype for noir and thus she has too much screen time. However, as commentary on other Fox noirs has pointed out, the supportive "good girl" love interest is as much a part of the noir tradition as the wise-cracking torch singer; and clearly Hayward's role was (expertly) expanded to augment her star development, much as was done somewhat earlier for Lauren Bacall in THE BIG SLEEP.

Hayward's savvy dialogue imbues her character with the sassy edge one expects of a noir femme fatale, suggesting that she's a capable match for the protagonist in the boudoir. But the commentary misreads the scene where her lover (Conte) reacquaints himself with the sexual atmosphere of her apartment after a seven-year absence. This is not a tense, foreboding mood (especially in contrast to the menacing gloom when he enters his parents' "dark old house" in the sequence that follows this one), as he pockets her lipstick kiss on a discarded tissue and then nonchalantly slips out of his clothes to take a shower. And Hayward's leer and self-hug when she realizes who has broken into her bedroom and is naked in the next room leaves little doubt about the extent of the reunion that takes place between the slow dissolve and the next scene we share with them.

Robinson clearly deserved an Oscar for his performance as the patriarch--his fluid Italian, his courage for a couple near-nude scenes, and his characteristic good acting, especially when he'd get that trademark thrush in his voice to convey deep emotions. And, of course, this is the supreme Richard Conte picture.

I was puzzled by the music used for the final shots of the movie. I knew I'd heard the music somewhere, but the DVD commentary merely continues rattling on plot description. I checked the other credits of composer Daniele Amfitheatrof and, though impressed by his list of accomplishments, found no other film title that matched up with that fade-out music. Only while writing this amazon.com blurb did I recall that it's the same music that ended the Fox classic THE RAZOR'S EDGE three years earlier. Amazon.com lists that film's director as the composer of the music for EDGE; but, while Goulding did write the popular songs for that production, the theme at the close of EDGE and of HOUSE is by Alfred Newman. Looks like Yordan (instead of director Mankiewicz) taking credit for the script of HOUSE OF STRANGERS is not the only cover-up associated with the Mankiewicz movie.

HOUSE OF STRANGERS doesn't "feel like" a noir film to me. Conte's protagonist is not really an anti-hero, is always a confident professional rather than haunted with self-doubt and hunted as a victim of legit society. Part family drama and part gangster picture, HOUSE lacks such noir staples as fancy nightclubs (though the speakeasy depicted economically conveys a seedy noir clientele); thug beatings that result in the hero being bandaged by the vapid good girl who believes in him; or a sense that the whole world (not just his brothers and his father's ghost) is out for the hero's blood. Yes he makes a bad choice and is jailed for it, but this plot detail does not exploit the usual noir wormwood. And yes, the story suggests such devices of Greek tragedy as hubris and inescapable Fate, but without the "cold city" lewdness the genre so often prefers. Ultimately it's KING LEAR (with two weak middle sons subbing for one of Lear's thankless daughters) meets THE GODFATHER.

This DVD's big disappointment remains the commentary. Amid patches of silence, occasional observations state obvious ways that the framing and editing advance the plot. But that shouldn't detract from the five stars this movie deserves. Full-blown noir or not, just skip the voiceover commentary and enjoy the film as is.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Immigrant Experience as Greek Tragedy. 24 Aug 2006
By mirasreviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
"House of Strangers" is based on the novel "I'll Never Go There Again" by Pulitzer prize-winning playwright and novelist Jerome Weidman, who wrote about the immigrant experience in New York City in the early 20th century, particularly the Jewish immigrant experience. This screenplay is credited solely to Philip Yordan, but director Joseph Mankiewicz actually wrote the final version of the script. Jerome Weidman's book is about a Jewish banking family who were changed to Italians for the film. If that was in order to avoid controversy, it didn't quite work. The Giannini family, who founded Bank of America, complained to 20th Century Fox that the family in the film resembled theirs. But they were outdone by the studio chairman himself, Spyrus Skouras, who thought the fictional Monetti family was his. So he limited the film's release. That's unfortunate, because "House of Strangers" has some wonderful performances, including one that earned Edward G. Robinson a Best Actor award at the 1949 Cannes Film Festival.

Seven years after he went to prison for attempting to bribe a juror, Max Monetti (Richard Conte) returns to New York with vengeance on his mind, directed at his brother Joe (Luther Adler), whom Max believes gave the police the tip that put him away. His old flame Irene Bennett (Susan Hayward), a sharp-tongued uptown girl, wants Max to abandon thoughts of vengeance and start a new life with her. As Max listens to his deceased father's opera records, we travel back in time to when family patriarch Gino Monetti (Edward G. Robinson), a poor barber-turned-rich-banker, held his immigrant clients and his 4 sons under his sway. -Except for Max, whose forceful personality made him his father's favorite, immune to the petty abuses and selfish whims suffered by Joe, Antonio (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.), and Pietro (Paul Valentine) . When the State investigated the bank's lending practices, the bitterness that Gino's ill treatment had sowed became apparent.

"House of Strangers" is sometimes called film noir, probably because of Max's subjective, introverted perspective of the corrosive Monetti family dynamics. But this isn't even a crime film. Its strongest elements by far are Greek Tragedy, but "House of Strangers" is also part immigrant experience and part romance. The sins of the father are visited upon the sons, and the 3 main players in that drama -Gino, Max, and Joe- are memorable. Edward G. Robinson's performance is a bit theatrical, but Gino's character is so poisonous and his emotions so vivid that it doesn't matter if he is over-the-top. His lecture about the differences between the Old World and the New is a hoot too. Luther Adler impresses in the small but delicate part of Joe, the scorned son. The interaction between Max and Irene seems superfluous, as if it were transposed from another story. A lot of dialogue that was unmistakably written by Mankiewicz comes out of Irene's mouth. There is some good stuff, but Irene talks too much. "House of Strangers" is a fine Greek Tragedy and a harsh take on an immigrant family that made good.

The DVD (20th Century Fox 2006): Bonus features are a theatrical trailer (2 min), a Poster Gallery of 4 b&w posters, a (mislabeled) Production Stills Gallery of 10 behind-the-scenes photos, a (mislabeled) Unit Photography Gallery of 23 production stills, and an audio commentary by film historian Foster Hirsch. The commentary isn't non-stop, but Hirsch analyzes the composition, framing, blocking, and any technique used to illustrate the film's themes for many scenes. He also comments on characters and provides background information on the film and actors. Subtitles are available for the film in English and Spanish.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow. 10 Aug 2006
By Tom Provost - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Superb. I can't believe I had not even heard of it, hopefully this DVD release will help it find a new audience and some deserved critical acclaim. It's billed as film noir, but it really isn't; it's more an extremely complex, suspenseful family drama. But that doesn't even do it justice. The screenplay is terrific, subtle, thoughtful, and at the same time, razor sharp. Some of the exchanges between Conte and Hayward in particular are electrifying. Talk about two `tough cookies' that ignite when they get together. And you really begin to care deeply about what happens to them. (All of the acting is top notch, across the board.) And then there is the direction by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. The movie is so beautifully crafted and feels as if it could have been made yesterday, it's gritty and urban and fresh. The composition in the movie has deep meaning in just about every shot, and is gorgeous to behold besides. Watch this movie.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Edward G. steals the show 30 Dec 2005
By Cory D. Slipman - Published on Amazon.com
"House of Strangers" commences with Richard Conte playing disgraced lawyer Max Monetti visiting his three brothers Joe, Tony and Pietro in the bank that they own. He's just been released from prison and apparently has vengeance on his mind. After his less than cordial call he proceeds to return to the now deserted family homestead. He has a flashback and we learn what has caused his predicament.

Conte's father is Gino Monetti played with complete aplomb by the incomparable Edward G. Robinson. Gino Monetti is as old world Italian immigrant who elevated himself from being a poor barber to a rich banker on New York's Lower East Side. Robinson was not wise to the banking laws and would loan money to people without collateral and at unregulated usurious rates. He eventually was investigated and brought up on charges. Lawyer Max came to his rescue being the only son of four that rated his father's respect. His brothers had been berated and treated poorly by Robinson, who felt he had good reason to do so.

The three brothers did nothing to help at the trial and things were going badly. Conte took a chance and attempted to bribe a juror, got caught and imprisoned for seven years. Meanwhile Robinson had his bank stolen from him by his sons and lived out the rest of his days embittered with hatred in his heart.

Conte's gorgeous girlfriend Irene played by the stunning Susan Hayward waited for him all those long years and seemed to be the tonic that would allow him to start life anew and forsake his brothers.

Director Joseph Mankiewicz did a nice job coordinating the heated interactions between his characters to create a story of a once close family torn apart by jealousy, resent and greed. The Romanian born Robinson makes the whole movie with his very convincing portrayal of an old school Italian complete with accent and mannerisms.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unto the Next Generation 20 April 2003
By Martin Asiner - Published on Amazon.com
HOUSE OF STRANGERS is a cautionary film about the dangers of hatred being passed onto the next generation almost as if hatred were an old and unwelcome pair of shoes. Edward G.Robinson is Gino Moretti, a self-made banking magnate who built his fortune as a ruthless moneylender who chose not to observe the usual niceities about observing normal banking regulations concerning records and collateral. In his over the top performance as an Italian who might have been Vito Coreleone had the Don chosen to go straight, Robinson is a totally self-centered egomaniac who comes off more as a smug Biblical patriarch holding court over his captive family than he does the old-world banker who believes that his money gives him rights that transcend filial obligations. It is hard to like him as he rips into his four sons, insulting each of them in ways that undercut whatever sense of independence and goodness that otherwise might have been there. It is only Max (Richard Conte), who can see,if only belatedly, the vision of his father. And even Max learns that he must purge himself of the bitter dregs of poison and animosity that afflict his brothers. Max cannot do this alone; he requires the understanding first of Maria (Debra Paget) then later Helen (Susan Hayward), both of whom act as leavening agents that continually remind him of the goodness that each is sure lies within. Gino Moretti is truly a vicious inverted father figure in whose futile bleatings to his ungrateful sons,"Who do you think I built this bank for?" generates no pity in them but rather a sense of loss in us that he probably heard the same empty words from his father. The difference between the utter tragedy that this film was just a hairsbreath away from and the modest sense of optimism that it does end with is probably no more than what may, in similar real-life situations, have emerged. What goes around truly comes around, and HOUSE OF STRANGERS continually reminds us of the truism of that cliche.
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