The Second Woman
|The Second Woman|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James V. Kern|
|Produced by||Mort Briskin
|Screenplay by||Mort Briskin
|Music by||Joseph Nussbaum|
|Edited by||Walter A. Thompson|
Harry Popkin Productions
|Distributed by||United Artists|
The Second Woman is a 1950 film noir mystery-suspense film directed by James V. Kern and featuring Robert Young, Betsy Drake, John Sutton, and Florence Bates. Sequences of the film were shot on the coastal areas of Monterey, California.
This psychological thriller tells the story of Jeff Cohalan (Robert Young). He is a successful architect who is tormented because his fiancée, Vivian Sheppard, was killed in a mysterious car accident on the night before their wedding. Blaming himself for her death, Cohalan spends his time alone, lamenting in the state-of-the-art cliff-top home he had designed for his bride-to-be.
Cohalan also notices that ever since the accident, he seems to be followed by bad luck. His horse and dog turn up dead without explanation, leading him to wonder if he has been cursed.
He meets a woman named Ellen (Betsy Drake), and they are immediately attracted to each other. She soon learns about Jeff's past and begins to suspect that Jeff may be much more in danger than he himself realizes.
Turns out his would have been father-in-law and partner in architecture, Ben Sheppard, was trying to destroy him. He held Jeff responsible for the death of his daughter. But the driver of the car was a married man, with whom Vivian was having an affair. Ben himself had a wife run away from him, and has a psychotic break when confronted with the truth behind why his daughter was in a car crash. Thinking Ellen is Vivian, and angry at his wife's running off, Ben shoots at Vivian/Ellen. Jeff gets hit in the shoulder protecting Ellen. It all ends well, with Jeff and Ellen getting together.
- Robert Young as Jeff Cohalan
- Betsy Drake as Ellen Foster
- John Sutton as Keith Ferris
- Florence Bates as Amelia Foster
- Morris Carnovsky as Dr. Hartley
- Henry O'Neill as Ben Sheppard
- Jean Rogers as Dodo Ferris
- Raymond Largay as Major Badger
- Shirley Ballard as Vivian Sheppard
- Vici Raaf as Sue - Secretary
- Jason Robards, Sr. as Stacy Rogers (as Jason Robards)
- Steven Geray as Balthazar Jones
- Jimmie Dodd as Mr. Nelson (as Jimmy Dodd)
- Smoki Whitfield as Elmer - Porter (as Smokey Whitfield)
- Cliff Clark as Police Sergeant
Film critic Craig Butler had problems with the script. He wrote, "The Second Woman is an intriguing if frustrating little thriller -- frustrating because it verges on being very good but settles for being merely OK. Part of the problem is that Woman combines elements of various styles -- film noir, psychological drama, mystery, thriller, romance -- but doesn't meld them into a satisfying whole ... All in all, The Second Woman is a good attempt that is worth watching, even if it falls short of reaching its goals."
Film critic Dennis Schwartz was also disappointed, "Robert Young gives a subdued performance that is somewhat credible, but not all that endearing. The film's ultimate villain is the real estate industry that is spoiling the natural beauty in its need to make lots of money. But the brooding melodrama, thought of by many as film noir, never seemed vibrant as a thriller."
- The Second Woman at the American Film Institute Catalog
- The Second Woman at the Internet Movie Database
- The Second Woman at AllMovie
- The Second Woman at the TCM Movie Database
- The Second Woman is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- The Second Woman information site and DVD review at DVD Beaver (includes images)