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Woman in Hiding

Posted by martinteller on November 25, 2012

“It’s not that easy, Selden.  The world isn’t being run just for you, even if old men who get in your way die when you want them to.  Or is it when you push them?”

Deborah Chandler (Ida Lupino) is the daughter of a wealthy mill owner.  Selden Clark (Stephen McNally) is wooing her, but he comes from a long line of scoundrels and her father disapproves.  Then the old man dies in a freak accident at the mill, and the two proceed with their nuptials.  On the first day of their honeymoon, they’re confronted by Patricia (Peggy Dow), Selden’s jilted ex.  She raises Deborah’s suspicions, and as she storms out, she discovers the brakes in her car don’t work.  The car goes into the drink, but she manages to bail out in time.  Now Selden and the authorities are searching for her body, and she goes into hiding to find Deborah and expose Selden as a murderer.  She picks up an ally: an affable newsstand man named Keith Ramsey (Howard Duff)… but Keith may be more of a hindrance than a savior.

This is a pretty good “woman in peril” thriller, with some moments of downtime but excellent highlights.  Any scene where the world seems to be closing in on Lupino — when she first discovers there’s a reward for her recovery, any of the confrontations with McNally, and the climax, set in the dark shadows of the mill — is golden.  It’s not one of Lupino’s shining roles, but she always manages to carry herself well and there’s nothing to complain about.  Surprisingly, her chemistry with Duff (who she would marry a year later) is rather flat.  He doesn’t really do the charming drifter type very well… also his character makes a series of boneheaded decisions, frustrating mainly because we know more than he does.  McNally is appropriately menacing, and Dow steals the screen for her very brief appearances.

The movie is notable for its voiceover narration from the “dead” protagonist, several months before Sunset Blvd.  Not quite the same scenario, of course, but the movie does keep you guessing for a while.  Most of the photography is rather bland, but it kicks into life for the suspense scenes.  It’s not the most amazing script and not the most amazing performances, but it’s an entertaining thriller with a dash of paranoia.  Rating: Good (75)


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