Pete Morgan (Edward G. Robinson) hires teenaged Nath Storm (Lon McCallister) to work on his farm. Meg (Allene Roberts), the girl Pete and his sister Ellen (Judith Anderson) have raised, is one of his schoolmates. When Nath wants to take a shortcut home, Pete warns him not to because of danger in the woods. Based on a novel by George Agnew Chamberlain, The Red House features a strong story, solid direction by Delmer Daves, and a fine central performance by Robinson. Film Chest’s Blu-ray, under its “HD Classics” imprint, is disappointing, but not unwatchable. The Red House (1947) Studio: Film Chest (originally produced by Thalia Productions and United Artists) Year: 1947 Rated: NR Length: 100 Minutes Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Resolution: 1080p Languages: English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish MSRP: $15.99 Film Release Date: March 16, 1947 Disc Release Date: April 24, 2012 Review Date: May 13, 2012 The Movie: 3.5/5 Meg (Allene Roberts) is a teenage girl being raised on a farm owned by Pete Morgan (Edward G. Robinson) and his sister Ellen (Judith Anderson), who adopted her after her parents, who had left her with them with the intent of coming back some day, died in a strange accident. One day, she brings home a boy from school, Nath Storm (Lon McCallister), to help out with the farm, as Pete has a wooden leg and has difficulty getting around. When Nath suggests taking a shortcut through the woods, Pete anxiously warns him not to, but he and Meg don’t listen and they end up running from the dangers of the red house. Meanwhile, though Meg and Nath grow closer to one another, Nath has his eyes on Tibby (Julie London), while Teller (Rory Calhoun), who lives on part of Pete’s property, is interested in any girl on whom he can get his hands. Pete’s nervousness grows as he worries they may learn the truth about the house. Based on a novel by George Agnew Chamberlain, The Red House is an effective example of a psychological thriller with a touch of film noir. Delmer Daves (Dark Passage, the original 3:10 to Yuma) directs the film efficiently with a light, easygoing touch, making it seem like a low-key family drama at times. He lets the story move the action instead of the camerawork, though cinematographer Bert Glennon (Stagecoach) does add some noticeable, effective touches of Rembrandt lighting that lend the film style and an eerie tone where it is necessary. The Sierra Nevada locations in northern California lend it an Earthy atmosphere in the more serene sequences. Daves’ script takes time to establish character relationships, perhaps spending a little too much time on the love triangle, but when it comes to the scares, it delivers the goods where it counts. It’s a solid, suspenseful story that doesn’t resort to gimmicks. His cast is fine, too, especially Edward G. Robinson, whose performance shows great restraint in conveying Pete’s mental anguish over the secret of the red house, as well as Judith Anderson as his wife. The Video: 2.5/5 The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Having fallen into the public domain, the film has seen its share of substandard presentations over the years. Transferred from a 35mm theatrical print, this AVC-encoded transfer is far better than what has been out there before, but it is flawed in more than one way. First, there’s the DNR issue. It’s nowhere near as bad as some, and it’s a bit restrained, leaving some fine detail to shine through. Grain is virtually nonexistent, though. However, the picture seems to be artificially brightened, leaving blacks looking washed out in some scenes and whites looking blown-out, diminishing the film's dark, atmospheric look. While the “restoration” demo shows how the white and black levels looked worse in the print, it still doesn't look quite right. The Audio: 2.5/5 The film’s mono soundtrack is presented as a DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono track. While Film Chest is more respectful with the sound than they were with that of Dementia 13, they didn’t have a lot to work with here, either. The dialogue is easy to understand, but the audio sounds shrill and distorted at times, particularly Miklos Rozsa’s opening theme. The track has occasional pops and hisses; the pops occur at reel changes as well, betraying the print's source. The Extras: 1.5/5 All video extras are in HD. —Audio commentary by William Hare: This is one of the most useless commentaries to which I have ever attempted to listen. All he does is explain the action and throw in an occasional superlative to describe the performances. —Theatrical trailer (1:24): This is not the original—the video-generated titles are a dead giveaway—but an approximation of what the original may have been like. —Restoration demonstration (1:05): A before-and-after comparison of the print before it underwent digital clean-up work. Final Score: 3/5 Buoyed by easygoing direction an excellently controlled central performance by Edward G. Robinson, The Red House is a well-told, eerie horror story that blends elements of psychological drama and film noir effectively. Its Blu-ray debut falls short of greatness due to the excessive DNR and a passable soundtrack at best, but it’s not totally unwatchable.