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Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Woman's Secret (1949)

When a popular singer and Broadway musical star (Gloria Grahame) is shot, her vocal coach and companion (Maureen O'Hara) confesses to the shooting. As the singer hovers between life and death in a hospital, through a series of flashbacks, we see the events which lead up to the shooting. Based on the novel MORTGAGE ON LIFE by Vicki Baum (GRAND HOTEL) with a screenplay by Herman J. Mankiewicz (CITIZEN KANE) and directed by Nicholas Ray (who would marry Grahame after the movie was completed), one would expect something more than a routine programmer. It's not bad but you know where the film is going and how it's going to conclude almost from the beginning. There's no mystery, no tension, no color (I don't mean that in the literal sense, it's in B&W). Grahame, no surprise, makes for a sexy little minx but since almost all the characters are rather unlikable, one can't really care too much. The exception is a police inspector (Jay C. Flippen) and his amateur sleuthing wife (Mary Philips, LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN) who provide much of the film's humor. Their domestic relationship is reminiscent of the relationship between the police inspector and his wife in Hitchcock's FRENZY, so much so that one wonders if that film's screenwriter Anthony Shaffer had seen the Ray film. With Melvyn Douglas, Bill Williams, Victor Jory, Ann Shoemaker and Ellen Corby.

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