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The Woman on the Beach (1947)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir, Romance | July 1947 (USA)
A Coast Guardsman suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress becomes involved with a beautiful and enigmatic seductress married to a blind painter.


Jean Renoir


Frank Davis (screenplay), Jean Renoir (screenplay) | 2 more credits »


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Complete credited cast:
Joan Bennett ... Peggy
Robert Ryan ... Scott
Charles Bickford ... Tod
Nan Leslie ... Eve
Walter Sande ... Otto Wernecke
Irene Ryan ... Mrs. Wernecke
Glen Vernon ... Kirk (as Glenn Vernon)
Frank Darien Frank Darien ... Lars
Jay Norris Jay Norris ... Jimmy


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 dule1029@aol.com

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

July 1947 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Desirable Woman See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The age gap of the four main actors spanned 33 years. Charles Bickford was the oldest, born in January 1891, making him 56 years old as of the July 1947 release date. Robert Ryan was born in November 1909, making him 37 years old. Joan Bennett was born in February 1910, making her 37 years old, while the "baby" of the bunch was Nan Leslie, who was born in June 1926, making her only 23 at the time. Both of the male actors were far older than their initial female love interests, Bickford by 19 years and Ryan by 14. Of the four, Bennett lived the longest to age 80, followed by Bickford at 76, Leslie at 74, and Ryan at 63. See more »


When Robert Ryan's character rides up to the shipwreck on the beach, his foul weather jacket has a US Navy emblem on the left breast. He's in the Coast Guard, not the Navy. After he dismounts, the emblem is gone. See more »


Peggy: I was so proud of you: the great Tod Butler - fiery American painter who approached his canvas' like a prizefighter.
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

Flawed but worth seeing
17 February 2001 | by mlzafronSee all my reviews

`Woman on the Beach' could have been a much better film; that's the tragedy of it. There's meat in this soup of a movie-mainly because of the performances of Charles Bickford and Joan Bennett. But the rest of it is awfully weak, including, somewhat surprisingly, Robert Ryan. The main failures are the screenplay and the score. The latter can be forgiven, although it's so heavy as to be intrusive, but the former is full of holes that leave the viewer baffled.

I've seen the film three times now and I'm still trying to figure out what exactly happened to Ryan in his career during the war (Navy? Coast Guard? As a previous reviewer here suggested, it's weirdly unclear what Ryan's duties were before and after the war) and what is supposed to be wrong with him.

The secondary characters seem to have wandered into the noirish landscape from a Ma and Pa Kettle film and frankly I'm not all that surprised that Ryan seems ambivalent about marrying good girl, Nan Leslie. Renoir doesn't seem to have known just what genre of a film he was making. We go from the woman's film to film noir to hokey comedy and back again. Irene Ryan is wildly out of place and her performance is over the top in the worst kind of way.

But the gems in this film are Bennett and Bickford. Their characters' seamy, violent, sado-masochistic relationship is riveting and you can't help but wish that Renoir had spent more time focusing on it and less on the antics of the Wernecke brood. Joan Bennett usually needed good material (`Scarlet Street', `The Reckless Moment', `The Woman in the Window') to shine, but she does quite well here, particularly in her scenes with Bickford. There's also a wonderful moment where Ryan is beginning to realize that she isn't quite the put-upon little woman he thought she was. Her reaction is worth suffering through scenes about chocolate cake and the decorations at the coast guard station.

Charles Bickford is fabulous as the blinded, bitter and jealous artist, easily outshining the usually excellent Robert Ryan, who appears merely dazed and confused. This was the film that got me interested in Bickford's career. I've yet to find the movie where he isn't excellent.

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