The Woman on the Beach (1947)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Film-Noir, Romance  |  2 June 1947 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 1,196 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 21 critic

A Coast Guardsman suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress becomes involved with a beautiful and enigmatic seductress married to a blind painter.



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Complete credited cast:
Nan Leslie ...
Walter Sande ...
Otto Wernecke
Mrs. Wernecke
Glen Vernon ...
Kirk (as Glenn Vernon)
Frank Darien ...
Jay Norris ...


Scott, a troubled Coast Guardsman assigned to a fog-bound station on a remote stretch of beach, suffers from Post Traumatic Stress when he survives a mine explosion that sinks his ship. Although he is engaged to a beautiful young woman who loves him, he becomes involved with an enigmatic femme fatale whom he meets near the beached wreckage of a torpedoed ship. She is married to a renowned painter who was blinded in a traumatic, but mysterious incident, details of which are very hazy. Although they only live in a small cottage, the couple have an ambivalent relationship especially in regards to his priceless cache of unsold paintings, a relationship that evolves into a romantic triangle as Scott falls under her seductive spell. Written by

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Go ahead and say it...I'm no good!


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Release Date:

2 June 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Desirable Woman  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Peggy says her husband's "optic nerve was cut," which is why he's blind. But, although she refers to the optic nerve in the singular, people have two optic nerves, one for each eye. See more »


Scott: You know I don't understand much about painting.
Tod: There's nothing much to understand. It hasn't anything to do with the brain. It's the eye. A painting's like a woman. She either thrills you or she doesn't.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the opening credits, the waves wash away one set of names before the next set is displayed. See more »


Featured in Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

Even hacked down, Renoir's haunting noir falls just short of a masterpiece
2 September 2002 | by (Western New York) – See all my reviews

Auteur of one of the supremely great works of world cinema, La Regle du jeu (Rules of the Game), Jean Renoir, like so many other European masters, found less than a stellar career in Hollywood. Though several of his French films were remade as American noirs, he directed but one installment of the cycle himself: The Woman on the Beach. And, though routinely butchered by the studio before release, the movie soon establishes itself as something quite out of the ordinary – in fact, something close to extraordinary.

After recuperation from physical and psychological trauma during the war, Robert Ryan finds himself stationed at a sleepy Coast Guard outpost on the California coast. He's restless and diffident about his upcoming marriage to a local girl. One day on the fog-shrouded strand he encounters a beautiful woman (Joan Bennett) gathering driftwood. He walks her back to her beach shack where a two-edged friction starts to develop. Suddenly in walks her husband (Charles Bickford), who was blinded by Bennett in a drunken accident years before; though no longer able to work, he's still reckoned the greatest painter in the world. (Renoir's father, of course, was the impressionist painter Auguste Renoir.)

Ostensibly glad to have a guest, Bickford insists on Ryan's promising a return visit. But as the flickers of attraction he feels toward Bennett kindle into lust, Ryan begins to wonder if Bickford is really blind, or as blind as he claims; he also starts to chafe at being drawn into the murky and perverse games the couple seems to enjoy playing. Determined to prove once and for all that Bickford is sighted, he one day leads him nearer and nearer the edge of a bluff....

Like Fritz Lang's Clash by Night (which also starred Ryan), The Woman on the Beach deserves its noir label more from disturbing mood and freighted ambiguity than from its storyline (it's by no means a conventional suspense drama). He inspires his principal cast to superlative performances, especially Bickford (in a role reminiscent of Nabokov's Laughter in the Dark). Bennett, one of the early icons of the noir cycle, attracted the attention of two other illustrious European movie-makers, Lang and Max Ophuls. But Renoir may have directed her in the finest work of her career as this self-described "tramp" embroiled in a marriage kept together by hate as much as love. And there's Ryan's signature blend of short-sightedness and roiling anger, which he has done elsewhere, but nobody save maybe Brando did more convincingly.

The unusual score, too – by the German Communist `serious' composer Hanns Eisler – betokens that this production's ambitions are very high indeed. If The Woman on the Beach falls just short of `masterpiece' status, blame must fall on RKO for meddling with what Renoir delivered, fretful that situations and innuendos that Europeans regularly took in their stride might be too naughty for Americans – those Americans who had, after all, just fought and won a war. Even hacked down to a measly 71 minutes, Renoir's vision keeps its haunting, incantatory power.

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