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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

THE SECOND WOMAN (1951)

It can be fun (and instructive) to see what could be done within the minuscule budgets of Hollywood’s Poverty Row. This one takes place in Daphne du Maurier territory (think REBECCA/’40: flashback structure, burning house & all, even Florence Bates) with Robert Young as a troubled widower architect (he lives in a knock-off of Falling Water!) who comes out of his shell when Betsy Drake moves next door. If only the unresolved 'accidental' death of his first wife wasn’t muddying the romance. Young gives a subtle and affecting perf in classic 'will-he-kiss-me-or-kill-me' mode and there’s a pretty good supporting cast, but Drake clearly shows why her career was so brief. Try to ignore the ludicrous background score assembled from Tchaikovsky’s Greatest Hits and the dreadful Public Domain copies that smear Hal Mohr’s handsome noir lensing.

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