By: Alex Phuong (Five Beers) –
Film Noir is one of the most beloved genres in all of cinema. Some famous examples include The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Double Indemnity (1944). However, just because a movie was made during such a historic time period does not mean that it is great. There will always be good films and bad films, and Guest in the House (1944) falls in the latter.
The best part of this film is the original score. The music captures the psychological drama that is an essential element of the plot. The score also received an Academy Award nomination even though the winning score was from Spellbound (1945). The characters also replay an old record that has music from something called “Liebestraum,” which is German for “Dreams of Love.” The music overall occasionally offers a dream-like quality to the picture given the surreal nature of the story.
Even though there are haunting elements to this example of film noir, the plot is incredibly boring and simple. The guest’s name is Evelyn, and she drives everyone in the house crazy. That’s it! What is even weirder is that not much happens during the first two-thirds of the film, which makes the first hour really boring. This film might have been based on a play by Hagar Wilde and Dale Eunson, and also from a story by Katherine Albert, but it is a shame that so many writers contributed to this incredibly bland film.
The acting in this film is awful. Anne Baxter must have used this film in preparation for better roles later on in her film career. This film was released in 1944, but Baxter went on to receive a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for her supporting role in The Razor’s Edge (1946) as well as a nomination for All About Eve (1950). The only memorable aspect of her portrayal of Evelyn is that this character is a complete lunatic. None of the other actors excel either, which makes this film very forgettable.
The ending is also very bizarre. It fits well with what happens near the beginning and also works with Evelyn’s character, but it is just one of the weirdest endings ever captured on film. It just has to be seen to be believed.
This film might have terminated Connie Laird’s career even though this was her film debut. Laird plays Lee, the little girl who is Douglas and Ann Proctor’s daughter. The only other film that Laird did was Angel on My Shoulder (1946) in an uncredited role. The character just sobs a lot, which might have been why Laird could not expand her film career.
Guest in the House (1944) is one of those bizarre films that occasionally come out of Hollywood. The Academy Award nomination is not enough to give this film any credibility. Not much action even happens until the last ten or twenty minutes of the film. Perhaps that is the reason why not many people have even heard of this mediocre motion picture.
Guest in the House (1944) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time there is messy handwriting that the audience has to read
Take a Drink: whenever Connie Laird cries and sobs on-screen.
Drink a Shot: every time the characters play “Liebestraum,” also known as “Dreams of Love.”