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Lightning Strikes Twice (1951)

6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 417 users  
Reviews: 18 user | 6 critic

Sent to a dude ranch in the west to recover her health, a New York actress falls in love with a ranch owner recently acquitted of the murder of his wife.

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(as Lenore Coffee) , (novel)
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Title: Lightning Strikes Twice (1951)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Richard Trevelyan
...
Shelley Carnes
...
Liza McStringer
Zachary Scott ...
Harvey Fortescue Turner
...
String
Frank Conroy ...
J.D. Nolan
Kathryn Givney ...
Myra Nolan
...
Father Paul
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Storyline

An actress Shelley Carnes (Ruth Roman), is looking forward to an exciting vacation at a dude ranch, but she gets more than she bargained for,including a perhaps murderous new husband. Only by shear luck has Richard Trevelyan (Richard Todd), her new husband, escaped execution for murdering his first wife Loraine. In a second trial, a single juror held out causing him to be released. A local priest, Father Paul (Rhys Williams), and other eyewitnesses paint a deadly picture to the future bride but the actual murder was not witnessed and somehow, unbelievably, love wins out. Because of local expectation, Shelley ends up at a competing dude ranch run by J.D. (Frank Conroy) and Myra Nolan (Kathryn Givney). The picture of Richard over their fireplace suggests a close relationship. They loan Shelley their car and direct her to go to Trevelyan's ranch. In route she meets Trevelyan on horseback, a handsome, but damaged, and mysterious young man. Upon arrival at the ranch she finds out the dude ... Written by Edward Kimble

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Release Date:

25 June 1951 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

A villám kétszer csap le  »

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Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

In the early morning hours following a late-night torrential downpour, the desert roads are already dry and dusty. See more »

Quotes

Harvey Fortescue Turner: It's awfully good for your complexion... all over.
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User Reviews

 
McCambridge, Roman stand out in King Vidor's overloaded desert melodrama
5 August 2002 | by (Western New York) – See all my reviews

Richard Todd sits on death row, waiting execution for his wife's murder. At the eleventh hour, a reprieve and new trial come through; he's acquitted, thanks to one holdout juror (Mercedes McCambridge). Released, he disappears into the west Texas desert.

Enter Ruth Roman, a touring actress in search of the desert's restorative climate. An innkeeper and his wife become solicitous of her when she stops in a small town, and lend her a car to get to the dude ranch where she hopes to recuperate. En route (in a scene prescient of Janet Leigh's flight from Phoenix in Psycho), she gets lost in thunderstorms and takes refuge in an abandoned house -- where Todd is holed up. They size one another up and, next morning, she continues on to the dude ranch. Run by McCambridge and her emotionally disturbed young brother (Darryl Hickman), it has closed down, but they agree to put Roman up for a few days. But she seeks out Todd again, despite conflicting stories about his guilt or innocence.

Director King Vidor and scriptwriter Lenore Coffee, having goaded Bette Davis to pull out all the stops in Beyond The Forest two years earlier, here take on another overloaded melodrama, with mixed results. We see too little of key events and rely instead on hearsay about other characters, who sometimes haven't yet been sufficiently established (and the one brief flashback is a mistake -- we need either more or none). And of eight major characters, two or even three (including Zachary Scott) prove superfluous. But the movie's biggest stumble lies in the casting of Richard Todd. Remembered if at all as the title character in that echt-1950s biopic of pious patriotism A Man Called Peter, here his stiff British accent and acting falsify the whole Southwestern milieu (Lightning Strikes Twice, like Desert Fury of five years earlier, evokes the new Sunbelt of money and leisure).

Happily, the female characters fall on the plus side. Kathryn Givney shows spunk and intelligence as the strangely solicitous Mrs. Nolan. Ruth Roman, on evidence of this movie and Tomorrow Is Another Day, had more range and subtlety than she was let display in her best known role as Farley Granger's mannikin-like fiancee in Strangers on a Train. But the acting honors, inevitably, fall to McCambridge. Looking especially tomboyish, her face registers every thought and feeling that passes through her head; she's hyper-alert in her moods and responses. And so, as was her custom during her disappointingly thin screen career, she delivers the most memorable performance of the film.


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