37 user 21 critic

A Woman's Secret (1949)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery | 7 February 1949 (USA)
Failed singer Marian Washburn confesses she shot her friend, successful singer Susan Caldwell, but her manager Luke Jordan and Detective Fowler doubt her story and cannot establish a reasonable motive.


Nicholas Ray


Herman J. Mankiewicz (screen play), Vicki Baum (novel)




Complete credited cast:
Maureen O'Hara ... Marian Washburn
Melvyn Douglas ... Luke Jordan
Gloria Grahame ... Susan Caldwell
Bill Williams ... Lee Crenshaw
Victor Jory ... Brook Matthews
Mary Philips ... Mary Fowler
Jay C. Flippen ... Jim Fowler
Robert Warwick ... Roberts
Curt Conway ... Doctor
Ann Shoemaker ... Mrs. Matthews
Virginia Farmer ... Mollie
Ellen Corby ... Nurse
Emory Parnell ... Desk Sergeant


Susan is in the hospital with a bullet near her heart. Marian has told the police that she shot Susan in a rage as Susan was giving up singing. Marian and Luke found Susan when she was a failure. A singer with a limited range, she was a diamond in the rough which Marian and Luke taught how to walk, dress and talk. With the singing lessons, Marian had hoped that she would have the career that Marian would have had if she had not lost her voice. Even though Susan is a scatterbrain girl, Luke does not believe that Marian would have been capable of shooting her. Luke hopes that Detective Fowler will be able to find out the truth and free Marian. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


I had to stop her ... at any cost ... that's why I pulled the trigger !


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Did You Know?


Nicholas Ray and Gloria Grahame met while shooting this film. They were married in Las Vegas shortly after completing the film. They chose Las Vegas because Ray loved to gamble and to allow Grahame to get a quickie divorce (after the required six weeks of residency in Nevada) from actor Stanley Clements. The day the divorced was granted, the two married. See more »


During the "incident" at the beginning of the film the shadow of the boom mike is visible in the reflection of the mirror. See more »


Luke Jordan: [to Inspector Fowler] I've told you we're going to keep talking about this until we stumble on something or other that will clear it up.
Mary Fowler: I've known for a long time that detective work was stumbling.
Mary Fowler: [to her husband] How come you didn't catch on?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening and closing credits are displayed on a page of sheet music. See more »


Music by Nacio Herb Brown
Lyrics by Gordon Clifford
Sung by Maureen O'Hara on the phonograph
Also sung by Gloria Grahame (dubbed by Kaye Lorraine)
See more »

User Reviews

A WOMAN'S SECRET (Nicholas Ray, 1949) **1/2
28 September 2007 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

Though not really a noir, this emerged a surprisingly compelling melodrama. That said, prior to its late-night Italian screening, the notoriously eccentric commentator Enrico Ghezzi stated that the film – Ray's second – was forced on him by Dore Schary; it is evident because, if there's an auteur at work here, it's screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Ray's treatment, however, is sufficiently stylish to overcome the essential impersonality with which he approached the material and, at least, through working on this film, he met future wife Gloria Grahame!).

Even if controversy still rages over Mankiewicz' exact contribution to CITIZEN KANE (1941), he gives this one a similar flashback structure; of course, comparisons to Orson Welles' magnum opus won't do Ray's more modest effort any favors, so I won't make any! Still, while not especially memorable, the film can stand on its own two feet – thanks largely to a fine cast (an unusually aggressive Maureen O'Hara, the volatile Grahame, the typically cynical Melvyn Douglas, Victor Jory as a wealthy but love-struck middle-aged man, Jay C. Flippen as an understanding police inspector). By the way, amusing though it is, the film's injection of humor is rather atypical for Ray – particularly in the figure of Flippen's wife, who likes to carry out her own sleuthing!

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English | French

Release Date:

7 February 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mortgage on Life See more »

Filming Locations:

Hollywood, California, USA


Box Office


$853,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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