An atomic scientist who was one of the brains behind the A-bomb is now working in private life, trying to adapt atomic power for business purposes. One day his long-estranged wife--who had ... See full summary »
An atomic scientist who was one of the brains behind the A-bomb is now working in private life, trying to adapt atomic power for business purposes. One day his long-estranged wife--who had walked out on him years before and taken up with a string of boyfriends--shows up claiming to want a reconciliation, but soon the scientist finds himself in the center of what appears to be a plot to steal his secrets. Written by
The title of this elusive Universal B film tantalizes with the promise of Patricia Morison reprising her role as the female Moriarty who gave Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes a run for his money in DRESSED TO KILL. No such luck. As it turns out DANGER WOMAN finds Morison less of a femme fatale as she a philandering housewife; the film itself is less of a hardboiled espionage thriller than a domestic melodrama. Yet this potboiler still attracts minor interest to baby-boomers as one of the handful of non-horror films which found it's way into Screen Gem's famous "Shock Theater" package which help jump start the monster craze in the late fifties.
DANGER WOMAN was, in addition, one of the first Hollywood movies out of the gate to incorporate atomic energy into its plot although it mainly functions as a classic Hitchcock maguffin, setting the wheels of the plot into motion without having any particular thematic interest. Don Porter, we're told, is one of the masterminds of the A-Bomb who now is seeking to refine atomic power for industrial applications. He gets sidetracked when his estranged wife, Morison, who left him years earlier for a string of paramours while he was off splitting atoms, arrives on the scene hoping for a reconciliation. Shortly after, Porter suddenly finds his life in a tailspin. His relations with his live-in secretary Brenda Joyce become fodder for local gossip, promised research grants evaporate and agents of unspecified origins come out of the woodwork, trying to hijack his secrets.
Once you get over the novelty of a Universal film of this vintage featuring familiar studio stock players such as Milburn Stone and Samuel S. Hinds waxing earnestly about The Bomb, DANGER WOMAN isn't much. A deep-dyed B film with a 60-minute running time and the action rarely straying from the hero's living room, the shudder-hungry Shock Theater audiences of the fifties must have been tuning out in record numbers. It's not particularly bad in the way that Universal programmers of the 40s often were, it's just so resolutely small-scale and unambitious. The script can't even decide if the villains are in the employee of an evil corporate empire or an unnamed foreign government. Morison spends most of her time playing down her reputation as a fallen woman, regularly getting stern rebukes from the maid Kathleen Howard (W.C. Fields' wife in IT'S A GIFT) while the rest of the characters eye her as a moral leper. Morison's involvement in the main action of the film comes so late and tentatively that her title DANGER WOMAN hardly seems warranted. Brenda Joyce, her opposite, is The Good Girl and she's little more than The Stepford Secretary, fawning all over her boss, belittling her own intelligence (with good reason) and virtuous to the point of being a nuisance. It's very much a picture of it's time. A hardcore Universal completest may still find it mildly entertaining.
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