A Woman's Secret

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A Woman's Secret
A Woman's Secret Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Nicholas Ray
Produced by Herman J. Mankiewicz
Screenplay by Herman J. Mankiewicz
Based on Mortgage on Life 
by Vicki Baum
Starring Maureen O'Hara
Melvyn Douglas
Gloria Grahame
Music by Friedrich Hollaender
Cinematography George E. Diskant
Edited by Sherman Todd
Distributed by RKO Pictures
Release dates
  • February 7, 1949 (1949-02-07) (US)[1]
Running time
84 minutes
Country United States
Language English

A Woman's Secret is a 1949 film noir directed by Nicholas Ray, and starred Maureen O'Hara, Gloria Grahame and Melvyn Douglas. The film was based on the novel Mortgage on Life by Vicki Baum.[2]


In a story told in a series of flashbacks, singer Marian Washburn (Maureen O'Hara) loses her voice. Aided by her piano player, Luke Jordan (Melvyn Douglas), they promote a young singer Susan Caldwell (Gloria Grahame). When Susan decides to quit the business, she is shot and seriously wounded. Marian is charged.




The film recorded a loss of $760,000.[3]

Critical response[edit]

When the film was released, the staff at Variety magazine gave the film a mixed review, writing, "There's too much unintended mystery about A Woman's Secret for it to be anything but spotty entertainment ... O’Hara gives a straightforward account of herself. Grahame carries handicap of bad makeup and unbecoming hairdress, and Douglas is too coy as the piano-playing friend. Flippen is topnotch as the detective, lifting his scenes, as does Mary Phillips as his amateur private-eye wife."[4]

More recently, film critic Dennis Schwartz, panned the film, writing, "Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without a Cause/In a Lonely Place/Born to Be Bad) takes a routine 'woman's pic' and turns it into a somewhat oddly diverting noir film by using a few of his perverse touches to liven up the dry story. Though made before Ray's 'official' debut feature They Live by Night, A Woman's Secret was released afterward (new RKO studio boss Howard Hughes held up the release date for no apparent reason, but when released the film lost money as it failed to capitalize on Gloria Grahame's current career momentum which quickly faded) ... In the end, things get untangled. But it's resolved in such a half-hearted and unconvincing way, that the tidied up gem of a mess still gives off an awful stink."[5]


  1. ^ "A Woman's Secret: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved May 13, 2014. 
  2. ^ A Woman's Secret at the Internet Movie Database.
  3. ^ Richard Jewell & Vernon Harbin, The RKO Story. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1982. p235
  4. ^ Veriety, film review, 1949. Accessed: July 12, 2013.
  5. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, March 28, 2008. Accessed: July 12, 2013.

External links[edit]