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A Woman's Secret

Overview

Screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz adopts the same prismatic-flashback technique he'd used so well in Citizen Kane for the 1949 filmic soap opera A Woman's Secret. Based on a novel by Vicki Grand Hotel Baum, the film begins with the shooting of nightclub singer Susan Caldwell Gloria Grahame. Marian Washburn Maureen O'Hara, who'd coached Susan into the Big Time, confesses to the shooting. Neither Marian's piano-player friend Luke Jordan Melvyn Douglas nor police inspector Fowler Jay C. Flippen completely buy her ...
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Overview

Screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz adopts the same prismatic-flashback technique he'd used so well in Citizen Kane for the 1949 filmic soap opera A Woman's Secret. Based on a novel by Vicki Grand Hotel Baum, the film begins with the shooting of nightclub singer Susan Caldwell Gloria Grahame. Marian Washburn Maureen O'Hara, who'd coached Susan into the Big Time, confesses to the shooting. Neither Marian's piano-player friend Luke Jordan Melvyn Douglas nor police inspector Fowler Jay C. Flippen completely buy her story, and it is their probing investigation of the facts that sparks the flashback parade. The film details in sometimes clever, sometimes maudlin fashion the perils of living one's life vicariously through the accomplishments of others. Though filmed before director Nicholas Ray's "official" debut feature They Live by Night, A Woman's Secret was released afterward.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
A very uneven little mystery flick, A Woman's Secret has so much going for it that it's a shame it can't keep from stumbling as often as it does. Let's start with Herman Mankiewicz's tasty dialogue, which comes in several flavors. Some of it is tart and tangy, especially when Gloria Graham is feeling feisty. Some is an intriguing mixture of world weary flippancy and gung ho enthusiasm, often courtesy of Melvyn Douglas. There's some silliness, some cynicism, some hardboiled -- a nice little smorgasbord. Mankiewicz's structure is a smorgasbord, too; that eventually becomes a problem, as the complexity of the plot sets up an expectation for a smash-band ending. Instead, we get a "that's IT?" resolution, and never do understand why Maureen O'Hara tells the lie that she does. Graham's character also doesn't come across clearly; she's two different people, and it feels as if a scene is missing that ties the two pieces together. And Nicholas Ray's direction is uneven, excellent in places, but disinterested in others. O'Hara also struggles a bit; she looks gorgeous, but she seems uncomfortable at times. Grahame does very well, even if she can't reconcile the two halves of her character, and Douglas is aces all the way. Throw in some nice work by Jay C. Flippen and Mary Philips, and there's plenty here to make Secret worth watching -- and to make you wish it was as good overall as it is at its best.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/21/2012
  • UPC: 883316574065
  • Original Release: 1949
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Presentation: Full Frame
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 47,074

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Maureen O'Hara Marian Washburn
Melvyn Douglas Luke Jordan
Gloria Grahame Susan Caldwell
Bill Williams Lee
Victor Jory Brook Matthews
Jay C. Flippen Det. Fowler
Mary Philips Mrs. Fowler
Robert Warwick Roberts
Curt Conway Doctor
Ann Shoemaker Mrs. Matthews
Virginia Farmer Mollie
Ellen Corby Nurse
Emory Parnell Desk Sergeant
Lorelei Vitek Waitress
Frederic Nay Master of Ceremonies
Evelyn Underwood Girl
Ralph Stein Mr. Harris
Guy Beach Policeman
Conrad Binyon Messenger Boy
Oliver Blake Mr. Pierson
Raymond Bond Dr. Ferris
Eddie Borden Waiter
Tom Coleman Policeman
Bert Davidson Radio Director
George Douglas Policeman
Dan Foster Stage Manager
Paul Guilfoyle Moderator
Alvin Hammer Fred
John Laing Radio Announcer
Robert Malcolm Bit
Rory Mallinson Benson
Frank Marlowe Whitey
Alphonse Martell Waiter
Ralph Montgomery Photographer
Forbes Murray Mr. Emory
Norman Nesbitt Announcer
John Parrish Prof. Camelli
Lee Phelps Policeman
Mickey Simpson Policeman
Charles Wagenheim Piano player
Lynn Whitney Actress
John W. Goldsworthy Harold
Technical Credits
Nicholas Ray Director
Constantin Bakaleinikoff Musical Direction/Supervision
Gordon Bau Makeup
Nacio Herb Brown Songwriter
Carroll Clark Art Director
Gordon Clifford Songwriter
Russell A. Cully Special Effects
Albert S. D'Agostino Art Director
George E. Diskant Cinematographer
Frederick Hollander Score Composer
Herman Mankiewicz Producer, Screenwriter
Harley Miller Set Decoration/Design
Clem Portman Sound/Sound Designer
Frank Sarver Sound/Sound Designer
Darrell Silvera Set Decoration/Design
Edward Stevenson Costumes/Costume Designer
Sherman Todd Editor
Harry J. Wild Cinematographer
A. Earl Wolcott Sound/Sound Designer
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