Direction by Fritz Lang
Screenplay by Silvia Richards
Cinematrography Stanley Cortez
Original Music by Miklós Rózsa
Starring Joan Bennett (Celia Lamphere) and Michael Redgrave (Mark Lamphere)
Diana Productions 99 mins
The opening scenes of Secret Beyond the Door, a creepy melodrama from Fritz Lang, introduce the protagonists as they are to wed, with the bride’s poetic voice-over narration letting us know it is a flashback. The camera of cinematographer, Stanley Cortez, elegantly explores the Gothic interior of the church in perfect harmony with the ethereal narration. Lang’s mise-en-scene places the mysterious groom, Mark, played by Michael Redgrave, in a space alone in deep shadow as he waits for the bride.
Sadly, the rest of the film is not a patch on these first few minutes.
A variation of the Bluebeard fable, the story has a Freudian theme where a dark traumatic childhood event is the root of a deadly psychosis. The resolution is a little too pat, and undermines the fairly intriguing drama that has gone before. But the screenplay is strong with intelligent use of Freudian tropes to explicate the motivations of the disturbed husband.
The attempt to deal with the psychological aspects and the moody atmosphere of entrapment establish the picture’s credentials as a film noir.
A minor effort which bombed at the box office.