The house on the other side of the lake – News cinema | Film-News.co.uk
Ken Hughes (director)
Network on Air #review #thehouseacrossthelake #networkdistributing @networktweets (studio)
69 minutes (length)
June 13, 2022 (published)
In the opening scene, a car is seen driving down a country road. We then moved on to a bar in which American novelist Mark Kendrick (Alex Nicol) is talking to a man who has just walked in – from the tone of the conversation and his slightly drunken state, we assume he is on the point to revealing a rather unsavory story… The film then cuts to flashback and we see Mark spending time in a rented cottage in the Lake District (actually it was Maidenhead close to Hammer’s Bray Studio’s), struggling to complete his next novel. Hoping the tranquility of the Lake District takes him away from sloe gin and blonde femme fatales, he watches as in the house across the lake there seems to be a party every other night. Suddenly he gets a phone call from that same house, well, to be a little more specific, the caller is Carol Forrest (Hillary Brooke) who wants to know if he can get a few people across the lake for a big party. hosted by her in the large building she shares with her wealthy husband Beverly (Sid James) and daughter-in-law Andrea (Susan Stephen). How Carol got Mark’s number we don’t know – anyway, after hesitating at first (the Forrests’ own launch boat broke down), he agrees and barely bats an eyelid on the blonde stunner (Brooke was 40 at the time) that he is absolutely smitten. (“Perhaps she was Lorelei who lured the sailors to their doom except that she didn’t do her hair…”).
Carol, who is truly a calculating femme fatale, invites Mark to the party as a “thank you” for his help. After a few sarcastic remarks, mostly directed at himself and his inappropriate clothing (“I could be mistaken for a Volga boatman”), he eventually agrees and enters the large reception hall – only to see her openly flirting with the pianist Vincent Gordon (Paul Carpenter) who happens to be… her lover. On the way out, Mark meets Carol’s considerably older (and not very handsome) husband in his boat at the dock and the two become practically best friends on sight. So much so that Beverly insists that Mark come home with him for another drink. Not to party but to get drunk on bourbon and play pool until the wee hours. Beverly explains to Mark her great love for Carol – who openly shows her “affection” for Vincent and just about every other man she loves on a whim. On one occasion, Mark and Beverly see Carol kissing her lover in a boat – clearly she doesn’t care. Few men would accept this kind of behavior, but Carol, it seems, is able to cast her spell on any man she likes although her behavior only increases the hatred her step- daughter Andrea feels towards her. On another occasion, Andrea scolds her father for being a coward for putting up with his wife’s behavior.
Never mind Andrea… soon Carol will be trapping our pulp writer in his conniving web and he’s kinda loving it. In case you’re wondering how the sudden shift in loyalties comes about: Beverly is dying and tells Mark he only has a year to live, however, seeing how his wife mocks him, he now intends to completely cut her off from his will. Foolishly enough, Mark tells Carol who is now aware that she will have to act fast in order to maintain her lavish lifestyle. By the way, Mark (despite ALL the warning signs and there are many) is now so smitten with Carol that he loses focus on his work. As a result, his publishers think the first few chapters of his next novel are rubbish, and his agent (who has done his best) is forced to let him go. Mark, now broke and in need of another editor, even has to ask him for a five.
However, after deciding to take a train back to London (which he misses), he comes across Beverly who invites him for one last boat ride and a few farewell drinks with friends. It turns out to be a boat ride that Mark won’t soon forget thanks to the ultra-intriguing, two-stroke Carol…
Written and directed by Emmy-winning director Ken Hughes (probably best known for the 1970 historical drama “Cromwell,” though many consider his 1963 crime film “The Small World of Sammy Lee” his classic), ” The House Across the Lake” is a competent blackish little piece. Hughes keeps it all at a reasonable pace and there can be no complaints about the tracks. Sid James (before his comic book days) also shows off his versatility (as he did a few years before in ‘Last Holiday’) as the doomed and benevolent Beverly while Hillary Brooke (a native New Yorker ) convinces with his English accent. The ever-stylish Alan Wheatley is also on board as a clever police detective, but the film remains unsatisfying due to its illogical conclusion. That said, the plot suffers from a number of details.
Seeing that the film’s runtime is just over an hour, the good folks at Network have added some interesting bonus material, including an insightful interview with the late Renee Glynne (RIP wherever your star shines now…) who had worked on the film as a ‘continuity supervisor’ plus ‘The Dame Wore Tweed: Barry Foreshaw Reviews Brit Noir’. We’re also treated to an episode of the rather dated 1960s TV series ‘Scotland Yard’ (Episode: The Drayton Case) plus Image Gallery. There is also a limited edition booklet written by Neil Sinyard. THE HOUSE ON THE LAKE comes as a brand new HD remaster on Blu-ray.