Noirvember 2018, Episode 29: The House Across the Lake (1954)
House Across the Lake (aka Heat Wave) (1954)
Directed by Ken Hughes
Produced by Anthony Hinds
Written by Ken Hughes
Cinematography by Walter J. Harvey
Hammer Film Productions
Distributed by Exclusive Films (UK), Lippert Pictures (U.S.)
(1:08) New to me - Network (UK) DVD
American novelist Mark Kendrick (Alex Nicol) gets to see how the other half (i.e. the rich British people in a manor across the lake) lives, meeting the pleasant but ailing Beverly Forrest (Sidney James) and his gorgeous blonde wife Carol (Hillary Brooke), who has her eye on Kendrick (among others, including a local pianist played by Paul Carpenter). Beverly is loaded and Carol informs Kendrick that after Bev keels over, the money’s all hers, or - if Kendrick plays his cards right - theirs together.
This may sound a bit too much like The Postman Always Rings Twice or Double Indemnity, but House Across the Lake has a lot going for it on its own merits. Ken Hughes - who was just getting his feet wet in filmmaking with this, his fifth feature film - delivers a terrific script and helms a movie that doesn’t feel like the ‘B’ movie it is. You frequently find American stars headlining postwar British films, but in this case, Alex Nicol is the movie’s weakest link. Both Brooke and James are at the top of their game and Nicol’s performance, unfortunately, is not as strong.
This is the third Ken Hughes film I’ve watched. I reviewed Little Red Monkey in Episode 19 of this year’s Noirvember and last year reviewed The Long Haul (1957) with Victor Mature and Diana Dors. All three have been terrific noir experiences and I look forward to seeing more of Hughes’s work.
Next time: the film noir readers voted for me to watch! Let’s just say Barbara Stanwyck has a big problem…
Photos: DVD Beaver, RareFilm