HOUSE OF STRANGERS is a cautionary film about the dangers of hatred being passed onto the next generation almost as if hatred were an old and unwelcome pair of shoes. Edward G.Robinson is Gino Moretti, a self-made banking magnate who built his fortune as a ruthless moneylender who chose not to observe the usual niceities about observing normal banking regulations concerning records and collateral. In his over the top performance as an Italian who might have been Vito Coreleone had the Don chosen to go straight, Robinson is a totally self-centered egomaniac who comes off more as a smug Biblical patriarch holding court over his captive family than he does the old-world banker who believes that his money gives him rights that transcend filial obligations. It is hard to like him as he rips into his four sons, insulting each of them in ways that undercut whatever sense of independence and goodness that otherwise might have been there. It is only Max (Richard Conte), who can see,if only belatedly, the vision of his father. And even Max learns that he must purge himself of the bitter dregs of poison and animosity that afflict his brothers. Max cannot do this alone; he requires the understanding first of Maria (Debra Paget) then later Helen (Susan Hayward), both of whom act as leavening agents that continually remind him of the goodness that each is sure lies within. Gino Moretti is truly a vicious inverted father figure in whose futile bleatings to his ungrateful sons,"Who do you think I built this bank for?" generates no pity in them but rather a sense of loss in us that he probably heard the same empty words from his father. The difference between the utter tragedy that this film was just a hairsbreath away from and the modest sense of optimism that it does end with is probably no more than what may, in similar real-life situations, have emerged. What goes around truly comes around, and HOUSE OF STRANGERS continually reminds us of the truism of that cliche.