Mae Doyle comes back to her hometown a cynical woman. Her brother Joe fears that his love, fish cannery worker Peggy, may wind up like Mae. Mae marries Jerry and has a baby; she is happy but restless, drawn to Jerry's friend Earl.
In a mansion in Caulfield, Illinois, Patrice Harkness and Bill Harkness are waiting for the police. Meanwhile, she recalls her life in San Francisco. The eight-month pregnant Helen Ferguson is dumped by her boyfriend, the crook Stephen 'Steve' Morley, who gives a train ticket to her to New York to stay with his new girlfriend. In the train, Helen befriends the also pregnant Patrice Harkness and her husband Hugh Harkness that are returning from Europe. When they go to the toilet, Patrice asks Helen to hold her wedding ring to avoid losing it, but there is an accident and only Helen survives. She is mistaken by the Hatkness family as being Patrice and welcomed by Mrs. Harkness, Mr. Harkness and Bill at home. Helen decides to pose of Patrice thinking in the future of her baby Hugh and the family treats her like a daughter. Out of the blue, Steve meets Helen in a club and blackmails her, promising to destroy the lives to Mr. and Mrs. Harkness. Now Helen realizes that she must kill Steve ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When Bill gets stuck in the slush trying to turn his car around to follow Stephen Morley and Helen Ferguson whom he has passed on the road, the rear wheels spin without traction. The front tires can be seen to have chains installed. If they had been installed on the rear drive tires, he wouldn't have had a problem and the scene wouldn't have had as much tension. See more »
[returns to car after dumping a dead body onto a moving train]
He stayed on, caught on the catwalk or whatever it is, but his hat and... came off.
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Barbara Stanwyck plays Helen Ferguson--pregnant and penniless deserted by her ex Steve (Lyle Bettger). On a train she meets Patrice Harkness (Phyllis Thaxter) and her husband Hugh (Richard Denning). Patrice is also pregnant and going to see Hugh's parents who have never seen her before. Then the train crashes. Patrice and Hugh are killed and everybody mistakes Helen for Patrice. She goes along with it for her child. Then her ex shows up in town with blackmail on his mind.
Based on the excellent novel "I Married A Dead Man" by Cornell Woolrich. Now the plot is more than a little ridiculous but this movie (like the novel) is so beautifully done you don't notice. It's shot in beautiful black and white (which fits the mood) and has good acting--especially by Stanwyck. Technically she's too old for the role (she was 45 when she played this) but she's so good that you overlook it. She has a GREAT scene when she realizes what she has to do to get rid of Steve. The look on her face was perfect! When I first saw this in a revival theatre the audience laughed and applauded when that scene came on. The movie looks great with beautiful settings. Also fun to see Thaxter and Denning early in their careers. A very good unsung film noir. Recommended.
Do NOT see the 1996 redo movie called "Mrs. Winterbourne". They turn it into an (unfunny) comedy!
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