Friday, December 17, 2010

Valentina Cortese & Richard Basehart in The House on Telegraph Hill 1951

Hard core film buffs will know Valentina Cortese and Richard Basehart. They're both film industry veterans and have done some significant cinema, however, the casual fan might be unfamiliar with their work. The House on Telegraph Hill, (1951) masterfully directed by Robert Wise, is a great opportunity to see them at their best. This film is beautifully crafted and delightfully suspenseful. It centers around a woman who takes the identity of a deceased, wealthy friend after being imprisoned with her in a concentration camp during WWII. She emigrates to the US to rejoin the woman's son, who was in infant when she was imprisoned. The boy's father was killed in the war, and no one in his prominent San Francisco family knows the mother personally, so she has a chance of taking over her life quietly and completely.  Upon arrival she's welcomed with open arms but strange and accidents begin happening.

I highly recommend this film. It's very well made and lots of fun to watch. It's available on DVD and the trailer is on YouTube. I can't caution you strongly enough against watching the trailer, though. It has some really unfortunate spoilers in it. Avoid it at all costs until you've seen the film. The poster above is available at

Obscurity Factor: 3 (available on DVD, considered a cult classic in some circles)


  1. Hi Ben, I do remember this one, and it's always a joy to see Valentina Cortesa. Have you seen another (later) obscure film with a similar setup called "Return from the Ashes"? It is creepier, and at the limit of poor taste (not over the line like "The Night Porter," though). Ashes was one of the efforts to make Ingrid Thulin (a Brini Maxwell wannabe) an American star. Thulin looks striking, but sounds flat or dubbed. Anyway... Ashes is a shocker, but the biggest shock comes in the first two minutes, which happen to be on Youtube. Ashes is directed by J. Lee "Madame X" Thompson. Love your blog.

  2. I haven't seen "Return from the Ashes", but will definitely look for it. Thank you for the recommendation!