by Lady Eve of Lady Eve's Reel Life
The opening scenes of Guest in the House, a 1944 United Artists release, paint a cheery portrait of upscale on-the-coast mid-‘40s Americana. Happy music accompanies a house and yard full of happy people, most of them members of the congenial Proctor family. Soon and suddenly the music slows, deepens and intrudes on this jolly scenario. The darkening mood heralds the arrival of Evelyn, fiancée of younger brother Dan Proctor. Evelyn is portrayed by Anne Baxter whose performance as the visitor, the guest in the house, is a preview of her future Oscar-nominated whirl as Machiavellian Eve Harrington in All About Eve (1950).
Very much like Eve, Evelyn is coated in a sugary-sweet and obsequious veneer. And like Eve she insinuates her way into a milieu to which she hungrily aspires. But Eve was a garden variety sociopath, where Evelyn’s issues may go deeper than that. Initially, all in the Proctor household are sympathetic to her fits of anxiety and her phobias. There are subdued but understanding murmurs about her stay in “a hospital.”