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Thursday, July 4, 2013

A WOMAN'S SECRET (1949)

Uninspired mystery tale about a radio singer (Gloria Grahame) who takes a bullet near the heart after a heated argument with her mentor (Maureen O’Hara). Things look grim for the both of them: Grahame may die; O’Hara wants to confess. Fortunately, old pal Melvyn Douglas doesn’t buy O’Hara’s story and finds a friendly ear in Gotham dick Jay C. Flippen (and his murder-mystery loving wife Mary Philips). It’s hack work for helmer Nicholas Ray on his third pic, but at least he could enjoy a honeymoon on set with new wife Gloria! (Their next was that ultra dark near-masterpiece, IN A LONELY PLACE/’50 with a terrifically scary perf from Humphrey Bogart.) The main interest here lies in watching scripter Herman J. Mankiewicz, on his penultimate credit, reusing his CITIZEN KANE/’41 story construction to format this trifle. Here, we open with a shooting instead of a death, but the jumble of flashbacks with various P.O.V.s to get at the truth, and their non-linear order is pure KANE.* Alas, nothing keeps the film from collapsing halfway thru on its own storyline.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *Pushing 50, Melvyn Douglas is really too old for this sort of thing. Perhaps his true function is structural . . . he’s ROSEBUD!

DOUBLE-BILL: IN A LONELY PLACE, see above.

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