Guest in the House
aka, SATAN IN SKIRTS. 1944

Director: John Brahm

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Anne Baxter is Evelyn, the beautiful, sickly, & superficially endearing girlfriend of Dr. Dan Proctor (Scott McKay), who should have known better than to fall for a patient.

Guest in the HouseShe comes to stay with Dan's family & thus becomes The Guest in the House (1944). She is unctuously friendly to Dan's brother Douglas (Ralph Bellamy) & Douglas's wife Ann (Ruth Warrick).

Even the servants (Margaret Hamilton & Percy Kilbride) are won over by her seeming friendliness. It starts so rosy that only murder or madness could save it from syrupy tedium. And never fear, madness is on the plate!

Evelyn has a phobia for birds & a heart conditon. It's clear from her diary that she is morbid & strange, but at first she hides it well. She becomes a manipulating narcissistic femme fatale capable of passing for normal, but not. She sows discord in the household where there was none before, without seeming to be the cause of it.

When she reveals her true nature to Ann, Douglas refuses to believe what Ann knows to be true, that Evelyn is dangerous. When conflicts come to a head, it will be up to Aunt Martha (Aline MacMahon) to squelch Evelyn's veiled rampage against the family's well-being.

Based on a stage melodrama, this film suffers from translation to the screen as too stagey & overacted. But the manipulative invalid does eventually become downright scary & sociopathic.

Douglas, an artist, attempts to paint Evelyn as Saint Cecelia, but is stymied, he knows not why, though Ann knows it's because there is nothing saintly in Evelyn for an artist to capture.

Eventually her machinations begin to fail & Evelyn has a melt-down, & will commit a final unpleasant act (off stage) which is for everyone but her a happy ending.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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