Jean NegulescoUSA95 minutes1948B&WEnglish
Nightclub owner Jefty (Richard Widmark) brings more than booze back from his most recent trip to Chicago, in the sultry form of Lily (Ida Lupino), a long-legged, leather-throated songbird whose tough veneer and perpetual cloud of cigarette smoke keep the lustful Jefty at a distance. She soon warms up to Jefty's long-time friend and club manager Pete (Cornel Wilde), however, and when Jefty returns from a hunting trip to discover that they're on their way to get hitched, he throws a vengeful hitch in their plans with a deadly frame-up. Road House was the first film Lupino made after departing Warner Brothers in search of better roles, and — given that Lupino developed the script herself and sold it to Fox with her as the lead — it also laid the groundwork for her career as an independent producer. Making a fabulous femme fatale entrance — one bare leg slung over a desk, her eyes smouldering along with her cigarette as she deals herself a game of solitaire — Lupino owns the movie, with an able assist from Widmark in one of his patented psycho turns. "An unusual, and unusually fascinating, variation on the [noir] genre" (Sean Axmaker, Turner Classic Movies).