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Guest in the House Movie Review

baxter ralph macmahon margaret

The interesting thing about Guest in the House is what it had to say about a frail 22-year-old girl whose manipulative behavior is plenty clear to the viewer, but not to any of the characters in the movie. Or is her behavior so strikingly clear because we know that the roles of Eve Harrington and Nefretiri are lurking in Anne Baxter's future? The part of Evelyn Heath is a preview of the many insincere vixens Baxter would play, but Douglas Proctor is unfamiliar erotic terrain for Ralph Bellamy. No less than three attractive women (including Ruth Warrick as wife Ann and Marie McDonald as Miriam, a voluptuous model) gaze at him like he's Mr. Sex whenever they're in his vicinity. Well, when the only other males around are Scott McKay, Jerome Cowan, and Percy Kilbride, it makes sense, sort of. Director John Brahm does a perceptive job exploring the film's many neurotic characters. (The conceit here is that you catch a neurosis as easily as a cold.) The sanest women in the joint are Margaret Hamilton and especially Aline MacMahon, who delivers her usual immaculate performance as shrewd Aunt Martha. The bonus is that Guest in the House is fraught with sexual tensions and all of them are explored as exhaustively as an independent production could get away with in 1944.

1944 121m/B Anne Baxter, Ralph Bellamy, Ruth Warrick, Marie McDonald, Margaret Hamilton, Aline MacMahon, Scott McKay, Jerome Cowan, Percy Kilbride, Connie Laird; D: John Brahm; W: Ketti Frings; C: Lee Garmes; M: Werner Janssen. Nominations: Academy Awards ‘45: Best Original Dramatic Score. VHS

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