The House on Telegraph Hill | Chicago Reader

The House on Telegraph Hill

Darryl Zanuck's plan to turn Italian beauty Valentina Cortesa into a Hollywood star fizzled with this odd woman-in-jeopardy picture (1951), though one can hardly blame her mesmerizing performance. As a Polish widow liberated from Bergen-Belsen, she steals the identity of a woman who died alongside her in the camp; with her new name comes a ticket to San Francisco, a pampered life in the title home, and care of the dead woman's young son. Weirdly, the dramatic implications of all this are pushed to the margins as the heroine begins to suspect her new husband (Richard Basehart), also the boy's guardian, is trying to murder her. Cortesa wound up marrying Basehart and subsequently enjoyed a long career in Europe, where she worked for Fellini (Juliet of the Spirits) and Truffaut (Day for Night). Robert Wise directed.


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