Secret Beyond the Door (1947)

Though director Fritz Lang is most remembered for masterpieces like Metropolis, M, The Big Heat, and his numerous other notable expressionistic films, Secret Beyond the Door is no exception to the Master of Darkness’s signature style. Starring Joan Bennett and Michael Redgrave, this Freudian melodrama delights in the secrets and darkness of love, obsession, and murder. And with his signature expressionistic eye, brought to life with the stunning cinematography of Stanley Cortez, Lang’s Secret Beyond the Door, though perhaps a bit disjointed at times, gives you all of the moody uncertainty that you’d want in a psychological thriller with not only its melodramatic story but also its stark visuals.

"if Fritz Lang made a Hitchcock film"

Think this: if Fritz Lang made a Hitchcock film. If there is anyway to perfectly sum up the story and mood of this film, it would be that. Played by Bennett is the headstrong heiress Celia, who has had no problem brushing off possible suitors left and right. Love is something that she hasn’t particularly been interested in, until she meets the charming yet mysterious architect named Mark (Redgrave) who she meets on a vacation in Mexico. Of course, this being Hollywood, the two easily fall in love. But what follows isn’t exactly a fairy tale for the lovebirds.

Secret Beyond the Door does drag its feet a little getting to the meat of the picture, but once Celia find herself in her home in Lavender Falls in New England, where Mark’s family has lived for generations, that is where the story really gets going. There’s something not quite right about the estate and those who are in it. Things like a figure menacingly peeking outside one of the windows during Celia…or, to Celia’s surprise, finding out that Mark is a widow AND has a son, David (Mark Dennis) that frankly detests him…or Mark’s stoic and physically scarred secretary Miss Robey (Barabara O’Neil) who seems a little too close to the family…

And though he calls it home, this is also the place where Mark doesn’t seem quite right either. He’s not really the same man Celia fell in love with in Mexico. Especially when Celia finds out the most disturbing thing of all while hosting their housewarming party. As if Mark’s inexplicable mood swings weren’t enough for Celia to handle, during this party is where we find out Mark’s rather niche obsession with murder. He collects rooms, making exact replicas of rooms where murders happen. And oh, by the way, Celia also finds out that David says that Mark killed his mother. Yeah, things aren’t looking too promising for Celia and her new beau…Secret Beyond the Door (1947)

The Freudian psychology of the story combined with Lang’s directing and the beautifully haunting shadows of the cinematography are all facets to keep the audience engaged. Even though the story isn’t always the most cohesive thing in the picture, the audience is at the very least intrigued by Mark’s complicated relationship to the women around him and to see if Celia is his next supposed victim. And, of course, the expressionistic shadows and visuals are a thing to behold.

While I would not consider it one of Lang’s better pictures, Secret Beyond the Door has its successes. It’s all about mood for this film. And right off the bat, Lang delivers an atmosphere of uncertainty and dread that is a mainstay throughout the entirety of the picture. There is nothing particularly exceptional about the picture, but if you’re in the mood for something dark a little weird…then Secret Beyond the Door isn’t a bad pick.

Secret Beyond the Door is now available on Blu Ray courtesy of Kino Lorber.

3/5 stars

Secret Beyond the Door (1947)

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray
- May 7, 2024
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
: English SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Noir queen Joan Bennett (Scarlet Street) stars as Celia, a bored heiress who, while on vacation, meets a mysterious architect named Mark (Michael Redgrave, Dead of Night). They fall in love and are soon married and settled into Mark’s New England estate, where Celia finds herself seemingly suffocating within the spare yet surreal and terrifying confines of her husband’s mansion. As shocking secrets are revealed, Celia is determined to stay and find the cause of Mark’s strange obsession with murder—even though she must risk her own life to do so. Master filmmaker Fritz Lang (Metropolis, M, The Woman in the Window) makes an exquisite feast of a film noir by adding a dash of Daphne du Maurier and a sprinkling of Sigmund Freud to the oft-told legend of Bluebeard. Featuring Anne Revere (National Velvet), Barbara O’Neil (All This, and Heaven Too), Natalie Schafer (Female on the Beach), a spellbinding score by Miklós Rózsa (Spellbound) and chiaroscuro cinematography by Stanley Cortez (The Night of the Hunter).


With a new 4K scan from the 2022 HD master from Paramount, Secret Beyond the Door is given a very pleasing treatment on this Blu Ray release. There are some noticeable signs of aging and wear that can be seen through some of the specks and scratches on the print, but it is by no means too distracting. The black levels are quite good, showing off the moody and shadow-heavy cinematography from Stanley Cortez. And definition of the picture is for the most part quite clear, or as much as it can be.


While listening to the DTS-HD master audio monaural track, I didn’t notice anything too problematic. Dialogue, ambient noises, and the score all seemed to come in clear as possible and mixed moderately well. With this old of a track, nothing is really going to sweep you off your feet, but it is a decent track nonetheless. 


Like with other great Kino Lorber releases, Secret Beyond the Door comes accompanied with a new and insightful commentary from a film historian to give us more insight into the film, its makers, the cast, and some wonderful film history as well.


  • Audio Commentary by Author/Film Historian Alan K. Rode

Special Features:

  • Trailers

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 3/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 3/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

3.5/5 stars

 Film Details

Secret Beyond the Door (1947)

MPAA Rating: Approved.
99 mins
: Fritz Lang
Silvia Richards; Rufus King
Joan Bennett; Michael Redgrave; Anne Revere
: Mystery | Drama | Noir

Memorable Movie Quote: "that night, you killed the root of the evil in me, but I still have a long way to go."
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
December 24, 1947
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 7, 2024
Synopsis: After a lovely woman and her new husband settle in an ancient mansion on the East coast, she discovers that he may want to kill her.


Secret Beyond the Door (1947)