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HIDDEN ROOM, THE (aka: Obsession) (director: Edward Dmytryk; screenwriter: Alec Coppel/from the novel A Man About a Dog by Alec Coppel; cinematographer: C.M. Pennington-Richards; editor: Lito Carruthers; music: Nino Rota; cast: Robert Newton (Dr. Clive Riordan), Phil Brown (Bill Kronin), Sally Gray (Storm Riordan), Naunton Wayne (Superintendent Finsbury), James Harcourt (Aitkin the butler), Betty Cooper (Miss Stevens, receptionist); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Nat A. Bronsten; Eagle-Lion Films; 1949-UK)
“First-rate British crime thriller.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Blacklisted Hollywood director Edward Dmytryk (“Murder My Sweet”/”Cornered “/”Crossfire”) in exile helms this first-rate British crime thriller, his first overseas. It’s adapted by Alec Coppel from his own suspense novel A Man About a Dog. The film was inspired by a real such incident in London. In America it was called Obsession.

Upper-crust Robert Newton is the insanely jealous psychiatrist named Doctor Riordon who discovers his wife Storm (Sally Gray) is having an affair with an obnoxious American, Bill Kronin (Phil Brown), and in a calm calculated way kidnaps the lover at gunpoint and keeps him as a chained prisoner for months in an abandoned cellar that’s near the garage to both his medical office and residence. The Doc says this affair is the last straw after many other affairs and the only way out is to kill the next man who made love to his wife. Doc has devised a well-thought out ‘perfect’ murder, whereby he creates a solution of sulfuric acid to dissolve the body in the bathtub. The delay is because the cautious Doc intends to produce his captive live if the police should charge him with the crime, but once the heat is off the investigation he intends to give Bill an acid bath. Complications arise when Storm’s frisky poodle Monty gets off his leash and sniffs out Doc at the hideout in the bombed-out area and joins Bill as a captive, the superintendent of Scotland Yard, Finsbury (Naunton Wayne), takes a personal interest in the case and starts snooping around the premise looking for the dog, and the bath doesn’t work out as well as expected.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”