House of Strangers Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Max Monetti (Richard Conte) has just been released from a seven-year prison term. Arriving at a family-operated bank, he confronts and threatens its presidents, his three brothers (Luther Adler, Efram Zimbalist Jr., Paul Valentine), while speaking of their dead father. After an encounter with a woman from his past, Irene Bennett (Susan Hayward), Max returns to his parents’ home, he remembers his father, self-made banker Gino Monetti (Edward G. Robinson), head of the Monetti family. Max remembers running an office out of the family bank, at which Gino employed the other three sons. Max romances Irene Bennett, while the government closes Gino’s bank, drawing out Monetti family resentments and leading to a series of betrayals. Legendary Hollywood director Joseph L. Mankiewicz made this powerful drama of internecine hatred, rich with colourful performances from Conte and Robinson. Robinson attains cartoon-like momentum as self-destructive immigrant businessman Gino, whose generosity in business cannot extend to his family. The ominous vilification of Max’s brothers soon seems understated compared to Robinson’s Gino — in one scene, Gino dances into a room where a table of family and guests have been watching him, forced to refrain from eating until his favourite, Max, arrives. Such sequences suggest that Max, in his big abandoned family home, is waiting to carry on the sins of the father, exacting brutal vengeance on his brothers. Robinson, confined in the film’s long flashback, steadily reveals those sins — namely, controlling his family through fear and shame. Fox’s DVD features a series of stills galleries, a trailer, and a commentary track with Foster Hirsch. (Fox)