A Woman's Secret (1949)
When popular radio singer Estrellita (aka Susan Caldwell) (Gloria Grahame - Oklahoma!) returns home after her show she has a row with her manager failed singer Marian Washburn (Maureen O'Hara - Miracle on 34th Street) who having built Susan in to a star is not going to allow her to throw it all away. When the row continues in to Susan's room a gunshot is heard and the police are called including Insp. Jim Fowler (Jay C. Flippen - They Live by Night). Whilst Marian confesses to the shooting Fowler is suspicious and doesn't believe her.
"A Woman's Secret" is, well I am not sure what it is because it isn't film-noir and technically as no one ends up dying it isn't a murder mystery either but it is a mystery. That mystery is to why Marian confesses to shooting Susan, what secret is she trying to hide. Is that simple idea enough to sustain the entire movie? Well to be honest the answer is no as whilst "A Woman's Secret" is entertaining it doesn't do the greatest of jobs of keeping you hooked on the mystery.
Now stylistically "A Woman's Secret" is typical of the late 1940's thrillers with after the build up which sees the shooting and Marian's arrest it then uses flashbacks to give us a journey of how they got to that point. We see Marian and Luke discovering Susan a singer with rough edges who they turn into a star and we see how Marian having had a failed career moulds her into what she could have been before her own voice failed and her career ended. None of which is bad but neither is it fantastic with too many over the top, melodramatic moments none more so when we hear Marian's version of the shooting which wouldn't have been out of place in any modern soap-opera with the evil look and close up camera work.
The thing is that whilst "A Woman's Secret" is a flawed movie which in my book ends up trying top hard to be dramatic does have a fine calibre of star. Whilst called on to over act the entire cast do their best to create characters with Maureen O'Hara not only again looking stunning but also bringing the mystery to her character and her reasons to life. And J.C. Flippen is great as old inspector who in his slow, methodical ways tries to uncover the truth as he doesn't suspect things are as clean cut as others suspect. Plus Mary Philips as his crime fiction loving wife ass some mildly amusing humour.
What this all boils down to is that "A Woman's Secret" is a reasonable thriller from the late 1940's which for fans of Maureen O'Hara will be pleasant enough but it isn't spectacular by any means.
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