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CHILD IN THE HOUSE (directors: Cy Endfield/Charles de la Tour; screenwriters: Cy Endfield/from the novel by Janet McNeill; cinematographer: Otto Heller; editor: Charles Hasse; music: Mario Nascimbene; cast: Phyllis Calvert (Evelyn Acheson), Eric Portman (Henry Acheson), Stanley Baker (Stephen Lorimer), Mandy Miller (Elizabeth Lorimer), Dora Bryan (Cassie), Joan Hickson (Cook), Victor Maddern (Bert), Percy Herbert (Det. Sgt. Taylor), Martin Miller (Prof. Topolski); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: S. Benjamin Fisz; Retro Flix; 1956-USA/UK)
Modest family drama that gets the most out of its slight story because the acting is top-notch.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Modest family drama that gets the most out of its slight story because the acting is top-notch.It’s all good until the contrived bittersweet ending puts an unconvincingmisty-eyed ribbon around the cautionary morality tale that desperately tries to tell us that children know best. Co-directors Cy Endfield and Charles de la Toureffectively direct this solid Brit drama. Endfield is anAmerican exile living in England, a vic of the Communist witch-hunt, who writes the screenplay based on the novel by Janet McNeill.

Perky 11-year-old Elizabeth Lorimer (Mandy Miller) is sent by her hospitalized Brighton mother to live in London with her cold Aunt Evelyn Acheson (Phyllis Calvert) and her barrister Uncle Henry Acheson (Eric Portman), a childless middle-aged wealthy upper-crust couple who don’t know how to take care of children, while mom is operated on in a London hospital. We follow the next three days in Elizabeth’s life. The lonely girl makes no connection with her aunt, but respects her sympathetic uncle. But it’s the friendly housekeeper Cassie (Dora Bryan) whom she befriends, who makes her stay as pleasant as possible. Elizabeth also attends ballet school. Meanwhile she meets on the sly her swindler father, Stephen Lorimer (Stanley Baker), who is a fugitive hunted by the police. The secretive Dad gives Elizabeth his phone number and address, but tells her to keep it a secret from everyone.

When Elizabeth’s mother’s sister, Aunt Evelyn, pries the address from Elizabeth after Det. Sgt. Taylor (Percy Herbert) makes a home visit to inform her that Stephen is accused of a white collar crime, she notifies the police of his whereabouts. This causes Stephen to flee the boarding house just as the police arrive, as Cassie and his daughter rush over to warn him. The little girl, who loves her doting father, calls her aunt a meanie.

In the end, Stephen returns to the hospital to see how his wife is doing and take his punishment, as the police are there to greet him.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”