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Shadow of Fear (1955)

Before I Wake (original title)
A woman travels to England to attend her parents' funeral. She is told by officials that they died of natural causes together, but she doesn't buy it. She comes to suspect that the nurse ... See full summary »



(novel) (as Hal Debrett)
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Cast overview:
April Haddon
Florence Haddon
Maxwell Reed ...
Michael Elder
Hugh Miller ...
Mr. Driscoll
Gretchen Franklin ...
Frederick Leister ...
Dr. Elder
Alexander Gauge ...
Police sergeant
Josephine Middleton ...
Mrs. Harrison
Frank Forsyth ...
Jack Storey
Stanley Van Beers ...
Frank Atkinson ...
Taxi driver
Station master
Robert Sansom ...
Phyllis Cornell ...
Dr. Elder's receptionist


A woman travels to England to attend her parents' funeral. She is told by officials that they died of natural causes together, but she doesn't buy it. She comes to suspect that the nurse who took care of her parents was involved in their deaths, but since the nurse is well thought of in the town, no one believes her. What she doesn't know is that her parents' killer has selected her as the next victim. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

female protagonist | See All (1) »


If I die before I wake this note will reveal The Killer...







Release Date:

7 March 1958 (Ireland)  »

Also Known As:

Shadow of Fear  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

A psychological thriller with touches of Hitchcock
6 June 2017 | by (Norway) – See all my reviews

This is a modern take on the old "Cinderella" fairy tale, with a wicked stepmother, but the stepsisters have been replaced by a subservient and gossip-mongering maid.

This is a well-made psychological thriller with many Hitchcockian touches. A recurrent topic in many thrillers is that you tell people that somebody is going to kill you, but no one believes you.

The only disappointment is the ending. I had wished that the stepmother was innocent and that Mr. and Mrs. Haddon had died of natural causes. If this solution had been chosen, the film would have been excellent. It would have made it far more superior than other films, in which the most probable suspect indeed is the culprit. What a twist it would have been. If so, April's allegations towards her stepmother would have been attributed to a young woman's neurosis. Perhaps such an idea was too radical in the 1950's.

Jean Kent is great as the stepmother. She somewhat made me think of Agnes Moorehead.

April Haddon (Mona Freeman) is called home from her studies at the University of California to attend her father's funeral. One year earlier her beloved mother had died. Her father remarried Florence (Jean Kent). The villagers love and believe her. She is looked upon as a benign woman. Florence winds both the local police officer and the old doctor around her little finger.

April feels that she has become a stranger in her own home. The furniture is gone. "Dust collectors", Florence Hatton unfeelingly utters. The former servants have been fired. Florence doesn't allow her stepdaughter to smoke or drink alcohol.

Florence tells her that Mr. Haddon was run over by a boat when he was fishing. April is convinced that it wasn't an accident and that he was murdered. The police hasn't managed to find a boat with marks on the bow.

April gets more chocked when Florence tells her that her mother was an alcoholic, and that she was her nurse during the last part of her life. This was not the mother that Florence used to know, and she doesn't believe it. Instead she believes that Florence killed both her mother and her father. April locates a boat with marks on the bow, and that was her family's boat.

According to Mr. Haddon's will April is going to inherit the bulk of the estate when she turns 21 years old. She fears that her stepmother is trying to get rid of her before that.

The relationship between the two women becomes more and more tense, and Florence eventually becomes like a clone of Mrs. Danvers in Alfred Hitchcock's "Rebecca".

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