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House on Telegraph Hill (1951)

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klondike

House on Telegraph Hill (1951)

Postby klondike » March 14th, 2009, 9:58 am

Just takin' in this fine, quirky little post-noir on Fox Movie Channel, and I gotta say, if this was Rich Basehart's follow-up to playing the serial bomber in He Walks By Night, he was really getting himself molded into playing typecast CREEPS! :evil:
Good thing he got hired by Irwin Allen to drive that TV submarine in the 60's; his image must have needed a real scrubbing! :idea:

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phil noir
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Re: House on Telegraph Hill (1951)

Postby phil noir » March 14th, 2009, 10:58 am

I saw this film a year or two ago and really liked it. I remember being surprised when I did a bit of research on it, and found it wasn't particularly well thought of. I don't recall all the details of the plot, but doesn't it involve emigree Valentina Cortesa posing as a dead woman in order to get into America? Excellent use of the vertiginous San Francisco locations plus a creepy old house - you can't go wrong with a creepy old house. It reminded me a bit of Rebecca or Dragonwyck in that way, I think.

I believe there was some poisoned orange juice and the brake cables of a car being cut at two key points in the narrative - I'm sure that's right.

I agree: Richard Basehart was very good as the initially ambiguous and then downright villainous villain.

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moira finnie
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Re: House on Telegraph Hill (1951)

Postby moira finnie » March 14th, 2009, 11:00 am

klondike wrote:Just takin' in this fine, quirky little post-noir on Fox Movie Channel, and I gotta say, if this was Rich Basehart's follow-up to playing the serial bomber in He Walks By Night, he was really getting himself molded into playing typecast CREEPS!


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"I couldn't be a straight leading man. You've got to be bigger and prettier than I am."
~Richard Basehart


I'm not so sure that Mr. B. wanted those straight heroic roles that he might have played as a more conventional leading man, (like cutie William Lundigan in this movie, whose greatest virtue as an actor may be his ability to not take himself seriously. That's okay--I love those dimples!). Though Basehart did play a more "regular guy" part in Fixed Bayonets (1951) for Sam Fuller that same year, maybe his success in these interesting but far from "normal" heroic roles contributed to his decision to move to Europe to pursue more varied parts, (which he certainly found working with Fellini).
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He probably had another reason too. His wife of ten years had died of a brain tumor while he was filming Fourteen Hours, (probably contributing to his anguished performance). He had also fallen in love with his co-star in House on Telegraph Hill, the Italian actress Valentina Cortese. Reportedly no one on the set knew that the pair were an item. They were married from 1951-1960, when she left him. I believe he had one more shot at marriage lasting till the end of his life.

I only began to realize what a good actor he was when I saw him in a recording of tv production of Andersonville, about the infamous Confederate Prisoner of War camp. He played the German born commander and Northern scapegoat on trial.
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About The House on Telegraph Hill, did Basehart's role seem terribly underwritten to anyone?
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What did you think of Valentina Cortese's performance in House on Telegraph Hill (1951)? I thought that the part in the Concentration Camp was much better than when she got the glam treatment. I really like her better in Thieves Highway (1949), though I don't think that American moviemaking suited her somehow. She was great in Juliet of the Spirits (1965), (maybe because she seemed more relaxed in Italian movies). Btw, Mongo had a photo of her awhile back. She's still around and kickin'. Thanks in advance for your POVs on this movie.
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klondike

Re: House on Telegraph Hill (1951)

Postby klondike » March 14th, 2009, 11:57 am

Moira, I happen to think Ms. Cortese was a delight to watch, quite convincing in her offbeat role here, and pretty easy on the eye, resembling more than a little our modern actress Glenne Headley, better known recently for her work on TV dramas, but also well-remembered by some as Tess Trueheart in Beatty's Dick Tracy.
As for the the chucklish Bill Lundigan . . well, dimples not withstanding, I usually distract myself from his summer-stock-in-Sandusky acting merits by staring at those Coolidge era tempular skull ridges that just scream to me forceps baby :shock: !
[ :evil: Mom should've gotten a refund! :evil: ]

jdb1

Re: House on Telegraph Hill (1951)

Postby jdb1 » March 16th, 2009, 9:21 am

moirafinnie wrote:I only began to realize what a good actor he was when I saw him in a recording of tv production of Andersonville, about the infamous Confederate Prisoner of War camp. He played the German born commander and Northern scapegoat on trial.
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Moira, you are so right about The Andersonville Trial, which has to be one of the best TV dramas I've ever seen. I do so wish it would be aired again, somewhere, and what a duel of scenery-chewing between William Shatner and Richard Basehart. Basehart's scene on the witness stand was fabulous. It's nice to be reminded that so many of our favorite television actors could do much more than just an hour's worth of pedestrian drama or comedy (and it was a stellar cast there, mostly fine character actors, directed by George C. Scott) .


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