Movies about/starring women. I originally started this list just as a reference for myself, but hopefully others will find it…
No Man of Her Own
A penniless pregnant woman takes over the identity of a rich woman killed in a train crash.
If film-going is akin church service, then each Stanwyck performance is like a visit to the Vatican.
I believe this is Mitchell Leisen's only entry in the noir genre, his better known films mostly consisting of comedy romance material. I'm a fan of the few Leisen films I've seen, but No Man of Her Own knocked my socks off. It opens with a fantastic voiceover sequence, with Barbara Stanwyck intoning Cornell Woolrich's fatalistic prose, immediately setting a tone of alienation, paranoia, and dread, which is maintained right up until the last few minutes of the film. Stanwyck is fantastic, and there is a great turn from Jane Cowl. A really fine melodramatic noir.
Opens on what should be an idyllic suburban Shangri-La, but close examination of the figures in the tableau shows something is off. Stanwyck's gaze is not fixed upon her husband or sleeping child, unease is in her posture and on her face, the baby's head is... too big. We've descended beyond the white picket fences and manicured green lawns and entered into the insect ridden terra of noir. Things only get more Lynchian from there as Stanwyck's "woman in trouble" befriends a preternaturally nice couple on a train and a disaster sends identities flying all over the place. The tension is subtle and just under the surface throughout this eerie, moody thriller that only ever missteps when a few too…
Reminds me of some of the themes from the most famous Mexican melodramas, usually protagonized by a single woman who will go to extraordinary lengths to care for her young son/daughter. Here, we’re in the suburban U.S., though, and it’s Stanwyck taking on that role; she ends up being misidentified as someone in a more privileged place in society and decides to “roll” with her new identity for the sake of the child. In classic Woolrich fashion (which I’m pretty well immersed in after a weekend of this stuff), the P.O.V. that the film starts to inhabit necessarily becomes quite paranoid— she’s fearful that any misstep she could make, that any untimely intrusion into her new adopted home, could result in her identity falling apart.
This appears to be one of the big surprise hits of this year's Noir City Austin festival, but it didn't really work for me as well as it seemed to for everyone else. I thought it was a little bit over-plotted (perhaps a redundancy given its Woolrich source material, but here we are), and even though Barbara Stanwyck is incredible as always, isn't her character just a little bit too noble for this to reach its true potential? Good stuff, though, with one of the all-time great corpse disposal sequences of film noir.
Must watch all Leisen
No man of her own... but plenty of guys that'll let her use their fountain pens.
Leisen does Gavaldon.
Fine noir. Stanwyck is in excellent form, and I'm developing a new respect for John Lund.
Liesen is usually a miss for me, but this is an effective, moody little noir piece. Great subtle performance from Stanwyck.
Thin plot, but great from Stanwyck
Fairly run-of-the-mill Stanwyck vehicle in which she plays a woman who survives a train crash and, through a series of oddly convincing contrivances, steals the identity of a woman who dies in it. The plot mounts in terms of ludicrousness and, as is often the case with these kind of films, there's a lot of melodrama and moralising until the final reel, which introduces a bizarre mystery element. Although the very last twist is ridiculous to the point of almost being random, I still kinda saw it coming thanks to an equally ridiculous to the point of almost being random scene that signposts it earlier on...
This is diverting enough if you like the era and the stars and aren't too fussy about much else. That's me then.
Must watch all Leisen
The sequence of events in this film is so staggeringly impossible, even by the standards of the Hollywood Dream Factory that produced it, that I have to believe we are meant to interpret the whole thing as a dream. This is no heavy-hitting noir with a storyline ripped from the day's headlines. This is an over-the-top identity-switch murder fantasy where layers upon layers of coincidence upon coincidence upon far-fetched occurrence upon ridiculous unlikelyhood add up to a world that's so far removed from our own, it might as well be happening in the Land of Oz.
It's so clearly Barbara Stanwyck's character's self-pitying/self-loathing wish-fulfillment fantasy that the only hard part is determining where her reality ends and her dream begins.…
Caught this film about 40-45 minutes into it, but I don't think seeing it from the beginning would have helped me understand it any more.
A mediocre melonoirma re-teaming the director and star of my favourite film, Remember the Night, to rather minimal effect.
Barbara Stanwyck is a gloomily intoning woman who receives a phone call saying that either she or her husband are about to be booked for murder – then in flashback we learn her story: how she stole the identity of a dead woman so she could move in with rich in-laws and get the best start for her kid.
The voiceover is atrocious and the story no great shakes, but Stanwyck gives one of her better later performances – diverging from the ‘whiny victim’/’one-dimensional strong woman’ stock types she increasingly played – and the ending is oddly and unexpectedly satisfying.
Bill Georgaris of TSPDT has finally decided to start updating his film noir page. This means the old version of…
Preserving this list for posterity as it disappeared.
RIP Allan Fish, your film taste and writing lives on.