Shadow of a Woman


1h 18m 1946
Shadow of a Woman

Brief Synopsis

A woman suspects her husband of plotting to kill his son from a previous marriage.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Crime
Mystery
Release Date
Sep 14, 1946
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel He Fell Down Dead by Virginia Perdue (New York, 1943).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

In a San Francisco police station, Brook Gifford Ryder is questioned about the death of her husband, Dr. Eric Ryder: Four weeks earlier in Monterey, where she has gone after the death of her parents, Brook meets the charming and solicitous Eric, and a week later they are married. That night, while celebrating in a restaurant, the couple have their palms read by a fortune teller, who predicts happiness for Brook, but grimly states that nothing can be said about Eric's future. This so upsets Brook that the following day when Eric is almost killed by a falling boulder, she is sure that it was not an accident. Eric makes light of her fears, but when he sees two men loitering outside their hotel, he suggests that they leave for his country home in Ben Lomond. The first person they meet there is Freeman, whose dead wife had been one of Eric's patients. When Brook remarks on Freeman's hostility toward her husband, Eric, who professes that illness can be cured by a combination of correct diet and proper living, explains that Freeman's ailing wife died on the operating table after Freeman took her to a surgeon against Eric's advice. Later that evening, Freeman shoots at Eric, and flees after missing his target. As Eric comforts Brook, they are startled by other intruders, whom Brook recognizes as the men they evaded in Monterey. Eric explains that one of them, lawyer David MacKellar, is representing his ex-wife Louise in a lawsuit over the custody of their son Philip. Brook is stunned to learn that Eric is divorced and has a son, but loyally agrees to support his bid for the child. In San Francisco, where Eric lives with his sister Emma and her son Carl in a big, gloomy house on Nob Hill, Brook is surprised at first by her in-laws' bitterness, but soon learns that Carl's painfully maimed leg is the result of Eric's refusal to have a surgeon set it after it was broken. She also discovers that five-year-old Philip has been placed on a juice diet and is slowly starving to death. Brook's rising doubts about Eric are temporarily quelled after she accompanies him on a visit to his patient, Mrs. Calvin, and sees him ease her pain by simply talking to her. When Mrs. Calvin's daughter Genevieve exchanges harsh words with Eric, however, he removes himself from the case. The following morning, when Genevieve telephones to beg Eric to help her mother, Brook reminds her that Eric has dropped the case, but recommends her family doctor, Nelson Norris. Later, Brook encounters Norris, who tells her that Mrs. Calvin died on the operating table because her disease was too advanced to be helped. Then, not knowing that Brook is married to Eric, Norris accuses him of quackery. That night at dinner, while Eric tends to the distraught Genevieve, Carl and Emma attempt to drug Brook. Alerted to the plot by the bitter taste of her coffee, Brook pretends to be affected, and then, fighting off sleep, sneaks off to a café. MacKellar, who has been waiting outside, delivers a subpoena to Brook. Back at the house, Emma and Carl reveal that they drugged Brook so that Louise could visit her son. After Brook advises Carl to see Norris about his leg, she visits MacKellar's office, where she discovers that Philip has a million-dollar legacy from his grandfather, and that Louise's lies during the divorce trial convinced Eric that he is not the boy's father. Then, after both Freeman and Genevieve apparently commit suicide, Brook becomes convinced that Philip is in great danger. She plots to remove him from Eric's house, but before she can implement her plans, Eric returns home and attempts to kill her. Hearing the struggle, Carl intervenes, and after a fierce fight, Eric falls from a balcony to his death. As Brook finishes her story, the police inspector is skeptical at first, but when MacKellar vouches for her, he finally declares that Eric's death will be ruled an accident.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Crime
Mystery
Release Date
Sep 14, 1946
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel He Fell Down Dead by Virginia Perdue (New York, 1943).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

Shadow of a Woman -


The advertising for dark thrillers in the 1940s promised raw realism, yet in general avoided real-life subjects that might depress an audience. Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity (1944) opened the floodgates for more sordid crime fare, as seen with 1946's The Postman Always Rings Twice and 1945's Mildred Pierce. Warner Bros.' Shadow of a Woman (1946) is a less accomplished thriller adapted from Virginia Perdue's book He Fell Down Dead. It deals with murderous medical malpractice by a psychotic doctor, and some of the victims are children. The unhappy Brooke (Andrea King) unknowingly marries a quack dietician Eric (Helmut Dantine), who believes that the right diet can substitute for medicine, and can even replace needed surgery. Eric's ugly secret is that he's starving his own son Phillip (Larry Geiger) to death, so as to claim the boy's inheritance. After learning that a lawyer (William Prince) is trying to return custody of Phillip to his mother, Eric's previous wife (Peggy Knudsen), Brooke sees evidence of her new husband's gross malpractice. An elderly woman dies after being refused an operation, and a young man (John Alvin) suffers from a broken leg that was never properly set. The new bride catches on to the awful truth far too slowly. By the time Brooke realizes that her husband has married her only to cement his custody claim on Phillip, her life is in danger. Critics were dismayed by the grim elements in Shadow of a Woman: a malnourished child wastes away in a dark mansion, patients die unnecessarily and a suicide might really be a murder. Reviews were mostly tepid, with low marks for director Joseph Santley's work. Although Helmut Dantine and Andrea King had been well received playing together in Warner Bros.' Hotel Berlin (1945), Shadow of a Woman did little for their careers. The handsome Dantine was fresh from four years playing villainous Germans, a type now less in demand. Andrea King cannot overcome a script that makes her heroine seem far too gullible. Producer William Jacobs also cast Ms. King in his horror film The Beast with Five Fingers (1946). His dark thrillers around this time included other grim downers - the excellent noir tragedy Nora Prentiss (1947) with Ann Sheridan is positively morbid.

By Glenn Erickson
Shadow Of A Woman -

Shadow of a Woman -

The advertising for dark thrillers in the 1940s promised raw realism, yet in general avoided real-life subjects that might depress an audience. Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity (1944) opened the floodgates for more sordid crime fare, as seen with 1946's The Postman Always Rings Twice and 1945's Mildred Pierce. Warner Bros.' Shadow of a Woman (1946) is a less accomplished thriller adapted from Virginia Perdue's book He Fell Down Dead. It deals with murderous medical malpractice by a psychotic doctor, and some of the victims are children. The unhappy Brooke (Andrea King) unknowingly marries a quack dietician Eric (Helmut Dantine), who believes that the right diet can substitute for medicine, and can even replace needed surgery. Eric's ugly secret is that he's starving his own son Phillip (Larry Geiger) to death, so as to claim the boy's inheritance. After learning that a lawyer (William Prince) is trying to return custody of Phillip to his mother, Eric's previous wife (Peggy Knudsen), Brooke sees evidence of her new husband's gross malpractice. An elderly woman dies after being refused an operation, and a young man (John Alvin) suffers from a broken leg that was never properly set. The new bride catches on to the awful truth far too slowly. By the time Brooke realizes that her husband has married her only to cement his custody claim on Phillip, her life is in danger. Critics were dismayed by the grim elements in Shadow of a Woman: a malnourished child wastes away in a dark mansion, patients die unnecessarily and a suicide might really be a murder. Reviews were mostly tepid, with low marks for director Joseph Santley's work. Although Helmut Dantine and Andrea King had been well received playing together in Warner Bros.' Hotel Berlin (1945), Shadow of a Woman did little for their careers. The handsome Dantine was fresh from four years playing villainous Germans, a type now less in demand. Andrea King cannot overcome a script that makes her heroine seem far too gullible. Producer William Jacobs also cast Ms. King in his horror film The Beast with Five Fingers (1946). His dark thrillers around this time included other grim downers - the excellent noir tragedy Nora Prentiss (1947) with Ann Sheridan is positively morbid. By Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to a January 30, 1945 Hollywood Reporter news item, Andrea King replaced Alexis Smith in the role of "Brook."