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House on Telegraph Hill (1951)

Richard Basehart , Valentina Cortese , Robert Wise  |  NR |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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House on Telegraph Hill + I Wake Up Screaming (Fox Film Noir)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Richard Basehart, Valentina Cortese, William Lundigan, Fay Baker, Gordon Gebert
  • Directors: Robert Wise
  • Writers: Robert Wise, Robert Bassler, Dana Lyon, Elick Moll, Frank Partos
  • Producers: Robert Bassler
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Black & White, Dubbed, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: March 7, 2006
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000CNE08I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,987 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "House on Telegraph Hill" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Audio Commentary with Film Noir Historian Eddie Muller
  • Poster Gallery
  • Production Stills Gallery
  • Unit Photography Gallery
  • Special Shoot Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Fox Noir Trailers: Fallen Angel, No Way Out

Editorial Reviews

House On Telegraph Hill is an intriguing cliffhanger set in a spooky Victorian mansion below Coit Tower in San Francisco.

Victoria Kowelska (Valentina Cortese) has lived through World War II bombings and relocation camps, and has finally emigrated to America. Now, she should be blissfully happy with her devoted husband (Richard Basehart) in their mansion overlooking the San Francisco Bay, but Victoria is not who she seems, her child belongs to someone else, and her husband and housekeeper are frightening her half to death.


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
71 of 73 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The House on Telegraph Hill may not be an A thriller, but it's a B-plus thriller trying hard. It has an intriguing premise, characters who may not be who they seem, a great locale in San Francisco and a big, gloomy mansion.

Victoria Kowelska (Valentina Cortese; spelled Cortesa in the credits) is a Polish survivor of the Belsen concentration camp. Her husband was killed by the Germans and her home in Poland has been destroyed. Just before the camp is liberated her closest friend dies. This was a woman who had a wealthy aunt in America. Victoria's friend managed to smuggled her baby boy out of Poland and to the aunt just as the Germans invaded. Given a chance at a new life in America, Victoria grabs for it. She uses her friend's papers to assume her friend's identity. After spending time in a relocation camp, she learns the aunt has died. She makes her way to America and in New York meets the boy's guardian, Alan Spender (Richard Basehart). The boy will inherit the aunt's riches when he comes of age. Spender, who has adopted the boy, is initially suspicious of Victoria, but then he seems captivated by her. Victoria believes that she can love the boy as her own and find security with Spender. In a whirlwind decision they marry, return to San Francisco...and then suspicious things begin to happen.

If Victoria is not who she pretends to be, it may be than Alan Spender isn't either. Hovering in the background and living in the mansion on Telegraph Hill with them is Margaret (Fay Baker), the boy's nanny. Margaret is a tightly wound woman, controlling, and is not pleased with the marriage. Into this mix drifts Marc Bennett (William Lundigan). Before long, he and Victoria begin finding their way toward a relationship of their own.

The movie has several things going for it.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lady in the dark June 18, 2006
Format:DVD
Intent on making a star with this vehicle out of the unusual Italian actress Valentina Cortese, Fox opened up its coffers for THE HOUSE ON TELEGRAPH HILL and also used some of their finest technical talent: the gowns, the sets, and the cinematography are absolutely first-tier, and the director, Robert Wise, does his usual intelligent tricky work with editing to make this woman - in - jeopardy film extraordinarily compelling. The script seems to be a mélange of several 40s melodramas, including REBECCA, GASLIGHT, DRAGONWYCK and (most of all) SUSPICION, but the film's excellent use of its San Francisco locale helps tremendously, as does Cortese's extraordinary performance as the guilt-ridden concentration-camp survivor who steals another woman's identity.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Thriller May 7, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This film is a real buried treasure. I found it to be reminiscent of Hitchcock at his best. Director Robert Wise perfectly captures the ominous sense of dread by letting this tale unfold subtlely to a satisfactory climax. The film is anchored by a powerhouse performance by Valentina Cortesa. You appreciate the depth of Cortesa's work here because she plays a flawed character, a Polish refugee who assumes the identity of a wealthy heiress who died in the concentration camps. The fact that we root for Cortesa's character against the potentially malevolent forces working against her is a testament to her skill as an actress. Also contributing excellent work here is an understated Richard Basehart.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
"House on Telegraph Hill" is a gothic suspense loosely based on Dana Lyon's novel "The Frightened Child". Sometimes categorized as film noir, this film is only vaguely so. It's very much in the mold of "Gaslight" or Hitchcock's "Rebecca" and "Suspicion" in placing a possibly paranoid woman in an imposing house with an inscrutable husband and a series of suspicious accidents. Is she the victim of foul play or simply neurotic? The film was conceived as a vehicle for Italian actress Valentina Cortesa, who struggled with her English but gives as strong a performance as the script allows. The art direction by John De Cuir and Lyle Wheeler was nominated for an Academy Award. The façade of the "house on telegraph hill" that appears to overlook the San Francisco Bay was assembled over top of real buildings on that very site. The interior of the house is a set, but the antique Victorian furnishings are real.

In 1939, Victoria Kowelska (Valentina Cortesa) lost her home and husband to the German advance. In a concentration camp, she befriended a fellow Polish woman named Karin de Nakova whose infant son was sent to live with a rich aunt in the United States before the war. In spite of Victoria's efforts to keep her friend healthy, Karin died before the camp was liberated. Victoria assumed Karin's identity and tried to contact her aunt in the US, only to learn that Aunt Sophie had died. Four years later, Karin arrives in the US and finds that Aunt Sophie's American nephew Alan Spender (Richard Basehart) adopted young Christopher (Gordon Gebert) and lives in the aunt's grand mansion on San Francisco's Telegraph Hill. Alan romances Karin and proposes marriage, which she happily accepts.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GOOD GOTHIC THRILLER.... March 23, 2006
Format:DVD
Surprisingly good modern Gothic thriller set in San Francisco. Polish WW11 refugee (Valentina Cortesa), after surviving concentration camps, assumes her dead friend's identity and comes to the US where she meets and falls in love with Richard Basehart. She is the "long-lost-relative" he has been waiting to meet. Now esconced in a spooky house on Telegraph Hill, she has reasons to fear the icy housekeeper (Fay Baker) as well as her new husband. Also in jeopardy is the little son of her dead friend whom she grows to love and think of as her own. Only a lawyer friend (William Lundigan) is empathetic to her growing suspicions and terror. Robert Wise provided taut direction to this engrossing film and the b&w photography is superb as is the location shooting in San Francisco. Cortesa spends near the entire film in panic or distress, Basehart is sinisterly effective as the overly doting husband, and Baker is very good as the housekeeper/governess whose motives keep you guessing. Excellent DVD print of this rarely seen thriller make this a keeper. Cortesa and Basehart married in real life and Cortesa went on to a long illustrious career, later winning an Oscar nod in Francois Truffaut's "Day for Night" in 1973. She was still appearing in films as late as 1989 in "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Suspensful Mystery From Start To Finish!
This mystery is a World War II thriller. The main actors are Richard Basehart and Valentina Cortese. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Louise
3.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable evening with not frequently seen actors
I enjoyed watching this pleasant movie with good acting by the main characters (all of whom likeable) and a decent plot. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Brian Greene
3.0 out of 5 stars Where Evil Lurks
Yes indeed who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men (women too but a man is the villain here). Especially when big money, big estate money, is in play. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Alfred Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars A pastiche of the familiar and the original
This film should not at all be as compelling and riveting as it is. It is yet another unraveling of a trite, banal plot: a wife suspects that her life is in danger and that among... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Curt Tow
4.0 out of 5 stars good flick
i like all the movies of this era. and its a cut above the norm for sure. And Basehart always gives an excellent proformance
Published 8 months ago by Mr. Michael Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Do you know who I am?
I have watched this film several times and feel that you will also.

The film is in black and white. Much of the story is narration. Read more
Published 8 months ago by bernie
4.0 out of 5 stars A little too much given away early
This was an enjoyable movie, but a little too much of the plot was given away early in the movie, so we suspected the "bad guy" rather quickly. Read more
Published 12 months ago by D. Eckman
4.0 out of 5 stars A Poor Man's 'Notorious' and 'Rebecca' in One
This film is definitely trying to be a little bit "Rebecca", alongside a "Notorious" plot, and a "Vertigo" setting. It's watchable, but it needs tightening. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Marion
4.0 out of 5 stars this is rediculous
I don't mind rating movies but why do I need to write a review? The only time I write a review is if I really hate it or really like it and it isn't an old movie that must have ten... Read more
Published 13 months ago by M. joanTretter
4.0 out of 5 stars The Streets of BelSen Francisco
The House on Telegraph Hill (Robert Wise, 1951)

What, exactly, does one call a movie from the age of film noir that obviously wants to be a piece of noir, but doesn't... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Robert Beveridge
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