Hayward stars in this minor Lang effort as a writer who lives with his wife, Wyatt, in a decaying mansion on the banks of a putrid river. While attempting to seduce his housemaid, Hayward accidentally kills her. Desperate, he convinces his crippled brother Bowman to help him get rid of the
body, and together they dump the corpse in the river. The tide, however, washes the body ashore and after an investigation, Bowman is blamed for the murder. Hayward panics and tries to pile the evidence against his brother, but Bowman threatens to tell the truth unless Hayward helps him.
Meanwhile, Wyatt has figured out what actually happened and joins Bowman against Hayward. Seeing no other way to extricate himself from this dilemma, Hayward decides to kill them both, but is killed himself in the process. In an effort to be taken seriously by the majors, Republic studios hired
several "big" directors to make films for them after WW II (Orson Welles, John Ford, Lewis Milestone). Lang was among the directors drafted, but Republic's budgets were still low, and their talent below par (especially writers and actors in this case) for any true blockbusters to be produced.
While HOUSE BY THE RIVER is, at least, a typically interesting Lang film, it suffers from a weak script and uninspired performances that even the director's moody visuals have trouble saving.
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