The House on Carroll Street

The House on Carroll Street Information

The House on Carroll Street (1988) is an American thriller film directed by Peter Yates. The film features Kelly McGillis, Jeff Daniels, Mandy Patinkin and Jessica Tandy.


Emily Crane is fired after refusing to give names to a 1951 House Un-American Activities Committee, and takes a part-time job as companion to an old lady. One day her attention is drawn to a noisy argument being conducted largely in German in a neighbouring house, the more so since one of those involved is her main senator prosecutor. Starting to look into things, she gradually enlists the help of FBI officer Cochran who was initially detailed to check her out.


Critical reception

The reception for the film was mixed. Roger Ebert, film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times liked the film especially the acting, and wrote, "As thriller plots go, The House on Carroll Street is fairly old-fashioned, which is one of its merits. This is a movie where casting is important, and it works primarily because McGillis, like Ingrid Bergman in Notorious, seems absolutely trustworthy. She becomes the island of trust and sanity in the midst of deceit and treachery. The movie advances slowly enough for us to figure it out along with McGillis (or sometimes ahead of her), and there is a nice, ironic double-reverse in the fact that the government is following a good person who seems evil, and discovers evil people who seem good."

Janet Maslin, film critic for The New York Times, also gave the film a mixed review, "Mr. Yates does his best to make The House on Carroll Street a stylish period thriller, but its more ambitious scenes get away from him. A chase through a bookstore is monotonously staged, and the piece de resistance - a battle across the upper reaches of Grand Central Terminal - becomes noticeably clumsy. Even such showy gestures as having Salwen describe the Red Menace by pouring ketchup onto a white tablecloth manage to lack visual flair, not to mention political sophistication. It hardly helps that whenever the plucky Emily is doing her eavesdropping, she's able to overhear something much too convenient, like 'You'll be leaving on the Chicago Express, which departs at 6 o'clock.'"

Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, film critics at Spirituality & Practice, gave the film a mixed review, and wrote, "Although The House on Carroll Street lacks dramatic punch, the filmmakers deserve credit for raising moral issues involved in recruiting former Nazis to secure America's scientific lead over the Russians in the Cold War.

Box office

The movie was not a box office success.



  • Mystfest, Italy: Best Film, Peter Yates; 1988.


The CD soundtrack composed by Georges Delerue is available on Music Box Records label (website).

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