A House Is Not a Home

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"No One Knew Her Business Better Than Polly Adler!"
  • NR
  • 1964
  • 1 hr 38 min
  • 5.7  (251)

A House Is Not a Home is a dramatic film released in 1964, directed by Russell Rouse and produced by Ronald R. Rondell. The film stars Shelley Winters, Robert Taylor, and Cesar Romero in lead roles. The story is based on a true event that happened in Los Angeles in 1956, where a group of women took in strangers as boarders to make extra money, one of whom was a serial killer.

Set in Los Angeles, the film follows the story of a woman named Polly Adler (Shelley Winters), a former prostitute turned successful madame, who buys an old mansion with her illegitimate son Lorry (Scotty Morrow) and her lover Frank Costigan (Robert Taylor). Their plan is to convert the old mansion into a lavish brothel, but Polly soon realizes that the house is haunted by its past, making it difficult for her to keep clients interested in it.

Polly hires a handyman named "Lucky" Reilly (Cesar Romero), who is revealed to be an ex-convict and an old acquaintance of hers. Lucky helps them renovate the house and later helps Polly to entertain clients. Meanwhile, Polly's relationship with Frank becomes strained as he becomes increasingly jealous of her courtesan lifestyle. Lorry finds it difficult to adjust to his mother's new life and starts to feel resentful towards her.

Just as Polly starts to stabilize her business, Lucky reveals that he has fallen in love with her, and Polly begins to have feelings for him as well. The two start a passionate affair, and Frank becomes suspicious of Polly's infidelity. In a fit of anger, Frank physically abuses Polly, causing her to end their relationship.

At the same time, Lorry discovers that one of their boarders, Nick (Pedro Armendáriz Jr.), is actually a serial killer who has been preying on women in the neighborhood. Lorry decides to confront Nick alone but ends up killing him in a fit of rage. Polly and Lucky help Lorry cover up the murder, and they bury Nick's body in the basement of the mansion.

Things start to unravel quickly as the police begin investigating Nick's disappearance. Lorry's guilty conscience starts to get the better of him, and he confides in Polly, who becomes increasingly anxious about the situation. In a climactic scene, the police discover the buried body, and Lorry confesses to murdering Nick. Polly, Lucky, and Frank are all implicated in the cover-up, and they are forced to flee the mansion.

A House Is Not a Home is a gripping tale of intrigue, passion, and deceit set in the seedy underworld of Los Angeles in the 1950s. The film is notable for its outstanding performances by Shelley Winters, Robert Taylor, and Cesar Romero, as well as its haunting score by Joseph Gershenson. Despite being based on a real-life crime, the film takes enough creative liberties to make it an engaging and thrilling piece of cinema. It remains a cult classic for lovers of film noir and suspense thrillers.

A House Is Not a Home
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 38 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    5.7  (251)