The Second Woman

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The Second Woman
The second woman poster -1950.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJames V. Kern
Produced byMort Briskin
Robert Smith
Screenplay byMort Briskin
Robert Smith
StarringRobert Young
Betsy Drake
Music byJoseph Nussbaum
CinematographyHal Mohr
Edited byWalter A. Thompson
Harry Popkin Productions
Cardinal Pictures
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • July 7, 1950 (1950-07-07)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States

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.[1] Sequences of the film were shot on the coastal areas of Monterey, California.


This psychological thriller tells the story of Jeff Cohalan (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 notices that ever since the accident, he seems to be followed by bad luck. Without explanation, his horse turns up horribly injured and he must put it down, his dog is poisoned and dies. These events lead Cohalan to wonder if he has been cursed.

He meets a woman named Ellen (Drake), and they are immediately attracted to each other. She soon learns about Jeff's past and begins to suspect that he may be much more in danger than he himself realizes.

It turns out that his partner in architecture, Ben Sheppard, was trying to destroy him. Sheppard, who was Vivian's father, held Jeff responsible for her death. But the driver of the car had been 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 his daughter's car crash. Thinking Ellen is Vivian, and angry about his wife running off, Ben shoots at Vivian/Ellen. Jeff gets hit protecting Ellen, but both survive.



Critical response[edit]

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."[2]

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."[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Second Woman at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  2. ^ Butler, Craig. Allmovie by Rovi, film review, no date. Accessed: August 19, 2013.
  3. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, October 3, 2004. Accessed: August 19, 2013.

External links[edit]