Secret Beyond the Door (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus gets locked in a room and feels the maddening urge to review this DVD
The 1948 Fritz Lang psychological thriller Secret Beyond the Door arrives on DVD. Telling the story of Celia after she marries Mark (Michael Redgrave) and realises he has secrets in his past and possibly an uncontrollable urge to kill the women in his life due to a childhood ordeal.
Secret Beyond the Door feels ominous from its opening scenes in which Celia describes the meanings of dreams to us. There's an ominous feel to it and this carries on with Celia's many voices overs that always seem to come back around to the subject of death one way or another. Meeting Mark, Celia's thoughts turn more to the subject of real love and via her insecurities and the reveals about the man she's married's life (including a son he failed to mention) Celia's life becomes a series of mysteries and the sense her husband is more of a stranger.
I found the screenplay here a very strong part of what makes Secret Beyond the Door work. Sure there's a lot of that voice over stuff that very often makes everything feel like a radio play but the discussions surrounding the differences between men and women and the symboligy of things were very good (if not a little sexist). The symbolic use of a locked door and indeed the secrets beyond them are used very well and the feeling that Celia's whole world has changed because of a simply locked or closed door when she ventures out of a room is very effective and adds a lot to the atmosphere and is all used to generate the desired payoff with the climatic reveal of Mark's hang ups.
Secret Beyond the Door was a good little thriller. Sure it feels dated and yeah the pay off was a little silly but that didn't take away from the sense of uncertainty about events and the creepy feeling it holds for a good chunk of the movie.
This isn't a bad looking transfer for a movie made in 1948. Sure there's a veil of grain but generally the image has some deep blacks, some fantastic lighting and even offers up some fine detail in the characters' costumes from time to time. There are artefacts popping up throughout, the softer close ups are full of scratches and in the climactic fire scene the smoke highlight the damage to print more than ever but these are small moments in what is a satisfactory presentation of an old black and white movie.
The mono 2.0 track is a bit hissy but dialogue is strong (albeit shrill) and the score sits nicely behind it. The bigger dramatic moments add some volume but really this is a very simple affair that sounds exactly like you'd expect an old movie to sound without any real highlights.
There's a nice ten page booklet in the box that's a pretty good read with some pictures but the only thing on the disc is a stills gallery split with 'Posters and Lobby Cards', Publicity Stills' and 'Behind the Scenes' collections and a filmography for Fritz Lang, Joan Bennett, Michael Redgrave, Anne Revere and Barbara O'Neil.
Secret Beyond the Door is a fine example of a classic thriller. Modern movies still take exactly the blueprint this 1948 movie uses and the 'mothers to blame' twist is still the bread and butter of serial killers in movies today. The disc looks and sounds fine for its age but the extras on the disc aren't as good as the booklet in the box.
Review by Marcus Doidge
General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children
Release Date: 14th November 2011
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono English
Extras: Stills Galley, Filmographies
Easter Egg: No
Director: Fritz Lang
Cast: Joan Bennet, Michael Redgrave
Genre: Drama and Thriller
Length: 94 minutes
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