The House Across the Lake (1954) | A bourbon-soaked British film noir from the legendary Hammer studios


Novelist Mark Kendrick (Alex Nicol) becomes attracted to Carol Forrest (Hillary Brooke), the predatory trophy wife of his wealthy financier neighbour Beverly (Sid James), who resides in a grand lakeside manor called High Wray with his devoted daughter Andrea (Susan Stephen). When Carol finishes her blatant affair with pianist Vincent (Paul Carpenter), Carol moves onto Mark who, having lost a crucial publishing deal, becomes easy prey when she plots to do away with her husband…

House Across the Lake (1954)

The House Across the Lake (1954) is an early feature by writer-director Ken Hughes (of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang fame), adapted from his own novel High Wray. This strongly cast British noir (called Heat Wave in the US), was one of a series of now highly regarded B-movies jointly financed by Hammer Films and famed US producer Robert L Lippert (Valley of Eagles).

Sympathetic performances by Susan Stephen and a pre-Carry On Sidney James outshine those given by Hollywood imports Alex Nicol, playing the Robert Taylor-styled boozy pulp writer, and Abbott & Costello regular Hillary Brooke, whose blonde femme fatale evokes the likes of Lana Turner or Barbara Stanwyck. Alan Wheatley, who’d go to play the Sheriff of Notttingham in TV’s The Adventures of Robin Hood in 1955, plays the homicide detective determined to get to the bottom of the murder, which is told in flashback.

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Made with more polish than usual for a British B, The House Across the Lake bristles and crackles with jibes at adultery, womanly wiles and how ‘sooner or later everybody wants something from somebody’, and boasts a sultry smoky theme tune from composer Ivor Slaney (Here Comes the Double Deckers) that’s film noir personified.

Shot at Bray Studios, the exteriors make good use of the Grade II listed Downs Place (which would appear in such classic Hammer horrors fare as The Curse of Frankenstein and The Mummy) as well as the front porch of the neighbouring Victorian Gothic country house Oakley Court (aka Frank-N-Furter’s castle in The Rocky Horror Picture Show).

House Across the Lake (1954)

Part of Network Distributing’s The British Film collection The House Across the Lake is presented in a brand new transfer from original film elements in its original aspect ratio, and also includes an image gallery and theatrical trailer. Nice print, great sound, and a great find.

About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on August 15, 2014, in British Film, Hammer-Amicus-Tigon, Might See, Might-See, Thriller and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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