The House on Carroll Street | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The House on Carroll Street

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Peter Yates, a craftsmanlike director who is generally at the mercy of his scripts, does a creditable job with a romantic thriller screenplay by former blacklisted writer Walter Bernstein (The Front), set in 1951 during the height of the cold war witch-hunts, which is strong in charm and period flavor but relatively weak in motivations. Aiming for an overall Hitchcockian ambience without the master's undertow of guilt, the film makes pleasant use of Kelly McGillis as a witch-hunt victim who turns amateur sleuth, and Jeff Daniels (The Purple Rose of Cairo) as an FBI agent who befriends her; also on hand are Jessica Tandy, and an especially effective Mandy Patinkin as the sweet-talking cold warrior villain. Michael Ballhaus shot the film, and Georges Delerue handled the score. Nothing very profound emerges from the mixture, but this is still a rather stylish and sincere entertainment that passes the time agreeably. (Edens, Oakbrook Center, Water Tower)

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