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The Hidden Room (1949)

Obsession (original title)
Approved | | Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller | 8 January 1950 (USA)
Clive Riordan plans a devilish revenge against his wife's lover.


Edward Dmytryk


Alec Coppel (book), Alec Coppel (screenplay)
1 nomination. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Robert Newton ... Dr. Clive Riordan
Phil Brown ... Bill Kronin
Sally Gray ... Storm Riordan
Naunton Wayne ... Supt. Finsbury
James Harcourt James Harcourt ... Aitkin (butler)
Betty Cooper Betty Cooper ... Miss Stevens (receptionist)
Michael Balfour ... American sailor
Ronald Adam ... Clubman
Roddy Hughes ... Clubman
Allan Jeayes Allan Jeayes ... Clubman
Olga Lindo ... Mrs. Humphries
Russell Waters Russell Waters ... Flying Squad detective
Lyonel Watts Lyonel Watts ... Clubman (as Lionel Watts)
Sam Kydd ... Club steward
Monty the Dog Monty the Dog ... Monty - Storm's Dog


London psychiatrist Clive Riordan, royally fed up with the repeated affairs of his wife Storm, plots a seemingly 'perfect' revenge against her latest lover, American Bill Kronin. Catching them in the act, he marches Bill off at gunpoint; and from the viewpoint of Storm and the rest of the world, Bill simply vanishes. But there's far more to the meticulously worked out plot than Clive's victims suspect, with the end slowly preparing in his private laboratory. Enter a mild-mannered Scotland Yard man, who seemingly has no clue beyond a missing dog... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Hidden LOVE! Hidden HATE! Hidden FEAR! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

8 January 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Hidden Room See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Director Edward Dmytryk was in the UK after being blacklisted as part of "The Hollywood Ten" who refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. He was granted a work permit in the country by the Ministry of Labour as part of a "directors quota" in place to protect film industry jobs in the UK. See more »


The inspector's pipe jumps from his mouth to his hand as he departs the doctor's garage. See more »


Dr. Clive Riordan: Are you married, Mr. Finsbury?
Supt. Finsbury: No... I've often thought about it. Trouble is, I've thought about it so long, I'm afraid I've missed the bus.
Dr. Clive Riordan: Just one of life's little jokes, isn't it?... It points out our mistakes too late for us to profit by them.
See more »


Remade as ITV Sunday Night Theatre: A Man About a Dog (1972) See more »

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User Reviews

British Noir about Sadistic Psychiatrist Holding a Man Captive
13 November 2008 | by robert-temple-1See all my reviews

This film is based on a novel ('A Man about a Dog') by Alec Coppel, who wrote Hitchcock's 'Vertigo'. This story is far creepier and more sinister than that one. Robert Newton, who the previous year had entranced people as Bill Sikes in 'Oliver Twist', and who was to be cursed with the role of Long John Silver the next year, from which he would struggle to escape for the rest of his life, here shows what a fine standard British actor he was. He plays a highly articulate and urbane London psychiatrist who beneath his mask is actually an obsessive and sadistic psychopath. Anyone who thinks psychiatrists cannot be more mentally ill than their patients is naive: I have known two psychiatrists personally (no, I was not a patient) who were totally insane. It is a good place to hide when you are psychotic, as no one can question you. Newton is perfect in this part, and his calm never leaves him till the end, as he carries out his odious plans with the unruffled manner of a cleaner dusting a bookshelf (and he has plenty of bookshelves). Newton is married to a compulsively unfaithful wife, played with style by the glamorous Sally Gray (who made one more film the next year and then became Lady Oranmore and retired from the screen). One day he snaps, and Phil Brown is the American lover who bears the brunt. As Newton says to him: 'You've heard about the straw that broke the camel's back? Well, you're the straw.' With meticulous cunning, Newton imprisons Brown in a cellar on a deserted bombsite (this is just after the War, and bombsites were everywhere in London). He holds him for months, and Brown very cleverly creates a character who attempts to bond with his captor, in the hope that he can somehow escape. Brown is kept chain within a chalked circle of his subterranean den, and Newton stands just at the edge of it and lectures Brown about how each time he comes he brings a hot water bottle full of yet more acid with which he is slowly filling the bath tub into which he will place Brown's body when it comes time to kill him, where it will dissolve. 'So I'll just go down the plug?' asks Brown, and Newton solemnly agrees. This film is really nasty and does not let up in showing us the calculating manner in which a psychopath goes about his carefully coordinated crime plan. Ed Dmytryk directs chillingly and tautly, and surprisingly the music is by Nino Rota of Italy, who later would become famous for composing the music for major Italian directors like Visconti and Fellini. Naunton Wayne plays a Scotland yard superintendent with a calm and menace which exceeds even that of Newton's. This film in a sense is a study in the mannered British way of behaving, and the politenesses exchanged between a criminal and a detective who are enemies, as well as between a husband and a wife who loathe each other but for some reason never split up, living on in their elegant house with no children but the dog Monty, played by a real dog called Monty. And here is the rub: Monty messes things up in a major way, but that would be telling. For those who can bear the extremely grisly and claustrophobic aspects of this sick tale, which was a forerunner of 'The Collector' with Samantha Eggar, this film could be recommended as good noir fare. But it is not pleasant, and it lacks the surreal and haunting quality of 'Vertigo' entirely. It is certainly a savage comment on the arch hypocrisy of traditional upper middle class British manners, and all that they can conceal, such as 'something nasty in the shed'.

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