House by the River

House by the River is a 1950 film directed by Fritz Lang. The Gothic crime story is considered film noir. The film was released by Republic Pictures.


A rich novelist (Stephen Byrne) who lives and works by a river kills his attractive maid after she begins screaming following a drunken pass. The writer, with the help of his limping brother, loads the body into an old sack and the pair throws the body into the river. Unfortunately, the body comes back up and floats by the house days later. Despite desperate attempts by the brothers to get the body, the police end up recovering it. The writer, who uses the woman's disappearance and killing for publicity for his books, realizes that his brother is the one who is going to be accused of the crime. Meanwhile, he begins writing a book about the crime in another attempt to cash in on the scandal. His wife and brother begin to fall in love, despite the fact that he has become the prime suspect.

Critical reaction

Reviews for the film were mixed when first released. Modern reviewers tend to give the gothic noir more positive write ups. Richard Brody for the New Yorker Magazine writes in his 2005 review: "Every detail of the film, from its opening shots of the nearby river and the wind in the trees, has moral resonance. Stephen promises to change, but from the moment that he listens lasciviously to Emily’s bathwater sluicing down a drainpipe his bad end is already foretold—and the elements of nature, the wind and the water, are the ultimate agents of his doom."


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