Secret behind the door

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German title Secret behind the door
Original title Secret Beyond the Door
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1948
length 99 minutes
Director Fritz Lang
script Silvia Richards
Rufus King (Story)
production Fritz Lang
Walter Wanger
music Miklós Rózsa
camera Stanley Cortez
cut Arthur Hilton

Secret Beyond the Door (Original title: Secret Beyond the Door ) is in black and white twisted film noir of Fritz Lang from the year 1948th


While on vacation in Mexico, wealthy New Yorker Celia Barrett meets and falls in love with the extremely charming magazine publisher Mark Lamphere. Despite doubts on the part of Celia, who has the feeling that she doesn't know Mark well enough, the two still marry on site. On the wedding evening, however, Mark tells her, completely surprising, that he has to travel to New York immediately to negotiate an offer to buy his magazine. Celia is plagued by doubts that he may have lied to her, but travels to his family home in New England to wait for him. When she arrives, she is met by Mark's sister Caroline. To her great surprise, she learns from this that Mark has been married before and that Mark has a 15-year-old son from this marriage. Also on the property is Mark's demure, loyal private secretary Miss Robey. A fire in which she saved the life of Mark's son David, her face is disfigured by a burn scar, which she always covers with a silk scarf.

In the following years, Celia began to have ever greater doubts as to whether the wedding was a wrong decision. She learns from David that he blames his father for the death of his mother because she apparently died of a broken heart. In addition, Mark not only has various phobias and neuroses, but also a strangely morbid passion: He “collects” rooms in which famous murders have taken place. In addition to these faithfully furnished murder rooms, there is another room, the door of which is always locked and no one except Mark is allowed to enter. He also resolutely refuses to speak to Celia about the contents of this mysterious room.

To save her marriage, Celia is forced to find out what is hidden behind the locked door. She secretly makes a wax impression of the door key in order to have a duplicate key made from it. When she sneaks into Mark's office for this purpose, she surprises Miss Robey without her silk scarf and finds out that her face has no burn scars at all. Miss Robey confesses to Celia that she's faking her disfigurement to make Mark believe he owes her debt. Celia promises not to tell Mark anything about her discovery.

When Celia opens the door to the forbidden room the following night, she makes a terrible discovery behind it: Mark has set up the room like an exact copy of her bedroom; apparently he intends to murder Celia. When Celia leaves the room again, she hears Mark's footsteps behind her. When she runs away from him, she meets Miss Robey, who advises her to flee. In extreme panic, she escapes into the night.

The next morning, Mark dismisses Miss Robey, who then believes Celia has told him her secret. Shortly afterwards he finds Celia in her room, who tells him that she has returned out of love for him. In the evening Mark has to go back to New York. Since Caroline and David are also away, Celia remains alone on the property. She goes back to the forbidden room to wait for Mark, who actually returns to murder her. Through confrontational questions, Celia succeeds in penetrating Mark's subconscious. He realizes that the reasons for his actions lie in a traumatic childhood experience and is thereby freed from the inner compulsion to kill Celia. Suddenly smoke wells out from under the door. Miss Robey set the house on fire to get revenge. Mark and Celia try to escape through the blazing flames, but collapse due to lack of oxygen. With the last of his strength, Mark succeeds in throwing in a terrace window and carrying the unconscious Celia outside. In the last scene, Celia and Mark are reunited in Mexico. He explains to her that he is on the mend.


The film opened in US cinemas on January 1, 1948. It did not come to cinemas in Germany, but was premiered on television on November 9, 1970. In this television version, which was cut by 24 minutes, the meaning of the film was completely distorted. On November 30, 2006 it was finally shown for the first time in its entirety on ARTE .

As Fritz Lang bluntly admitted in later interviews, the secret behind the door was his attempt to copy the great success of Alfred Hitchcock's films . The motifs in Lang's film are therefore very reminiscent of Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940), I fight for you (1945) and Notorious (1946). Secret behind the door failed at the box office and was a huge financial loss for Lang's production company Diana Productions.


“A comparatively weak film by Fritz Lang; Once again, however, behind the ostensible mixture of psycho-drama, crime thriller and horror film, his conscious handling of cinematic signs becomes recognizable, whereby the story expands into a parable about the longing for a sincere relationship between the sexes. "

“An interesting experiment, at times extraordinarily inventive. The acting is pretty good. "

- Michael L. Stephens, Film Noir: A Comprehensive, Illustrated Reference to Movies, Terms and Persons

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Secret Beyond the Door in the Internet Movie Database (English)
  2. a b Secret behind the door in the Lexicon of International FilmsTemplate: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used .
  3. Archive link ( Memento of the original from October 6, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Alain Silver, Elizabeth Ward, James Ursini and Robert Porfirio: Film Noir: The Encyclopedia , Overlook / Duckworth, New York & London 2010, ISBN 978-1-59020-144-2 , pp. 259-260.
  5. Andrew Spicer: Film Noir , Longman / Pearson Education, Harlow (UK) 2002, ISBN 978-0-582-43712-8 , pp. 124-125.
  6. "An interesting experiment, at times extraordinarily inventive and its performances are quite good" Michael L. Stephens: Film Noir: A Comprehensive, Illustrated Reference to Movies, Terms and Persons , McFarland & Co, Jefferson (NC) 1995, p. 317 .