House of Secrets (1936)

“I’m going to become violent in about three seconds.”

In House of Secrets, American Barry Wilding (Leslie Fenton) is on the ship crossing from Calais to London when he meets mystery blonde Julie Kenmore (Muriel Evans). After he rescues her from a shipboard Romeo, he pesters the woman for her name and address. She responds to Barry’s attentions by throwing her identification overboard. Barry is intrigued, but the woman makes a quick exit and disappears.

Once in London, Barry discovers that he’s inherited 10,000 pounds and a house called the Hawk’s Nest from his uncle. Barry signs a promise that he won’t let ownership of the house pass from his hands, and then he travels to the unoccupied house to check it out. When Barry arrives at the gloomy old house, he’s astonished and outraged to discover that the house is occupied by some very unfriendly people who throw Barry off the premises and accuse him of trespassing. Barry returns to London, and then the mystery blonde reappears and offers to buy the house ….

Directed by Ronald D. Reed, House of Secrets is an odd little film that blends a hunt for buried treasure with scientific experiments. The characters never really develop beyond the roles assigned–hero, heroine, villains etc. So motivation and character development is not a priority here, and what’s left is very formulaic and dull. The British owners of a local inn are completely overdone–with the innkeeper annoyingly dropping every ‘H’ possible. The Alpha DVD print I own is problematic–at times it’s too light, and this causes the faces of characters to blur. The background soundtrack is crackly, and large white splotches appeared in the print in some scenes.


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