A Woman's Secret (1949)

Written by John Chard on July 5, 2015

She had a voice with hormones.

A Woman's Secret is directed by Nicholas Ray and adapted to screenplay by Herman J. Mankiewicz from the novel "Mortgage on Life" written by Vicki Baum. It stars Maureen O'Hara, Melvyn Douglas, Gloria Grahame, Victor Jory and Jay C. Flippen. Music is by Friedrich Hollaender and cinematography by George E. Diskant.

When young singer Susan Caldwell (Grahame) is shot, Marian Washburn (O'Hara) takes the blame and is promptly charged. But something isn't right and those closest to Marian decide to dig a little deeper...

If the Lord wanted you to have a bullet in you - you would have been born with one!

A big mix of noir/mystery/melodrama conventions here as this RKO production ultimately holds its head just above water. The major problem that brings frustration is that the resolution just renders the whole story as sort of pointless, it does at times feel like they made it up as they went along, a jumbled collections of ideas.

On the plus side there are some choice characterisations, a flashback structure and decent tech credits on show. Story is packed with angry lawyers, sarcastic coppers and sultry dames. Some of the dialogue spouted is noir gold, particularly when coming from the mouth of Flippen's (stealing the film but sadly under used) grizzled copper, while Ray and Diskant know their noir visuals as they tone down the contrasts and utilise closed in space for the more serious scenes in the story.

Grahame is full of sexual and world wise innocence, teasing away like a good un', Jory gives a show of fidgety anger, while Douglas gets the tongue in cheek role and works well as a romantic prop feeding off of O'Hara's (actually under written considering it's the lead) more sternly sexy performance. This is not essential noir for the the noir lovers, and certainly not prime stuff from noir legend Nicholas Ray. Yet it's better than its maligned reputation suggests. But only just mind you... 6/10