12 user 9 critic

The Secret of Convict Lake (1951)

Approved | | Western | 8 September 1951 (Sweden)
In 1871 a convict escapes, with other prisoners, to kill the man that framed him, but has second thoughts after meeting the man's beautiful future wife.


Michael Gordon


Anna Hunger (story), Jack Pollexfen (story) | 2 more credits »


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Complete credited cast:
Glenn Ford ... Jim Canfield
Gene Tierney ... Marcia Stoddard
Ethel Barrymore ... Granny
Zachary Scott ... Johnny Greer
Ann Dvorak ... Rachel Schaeffer
Barbara Bates ... Barbara Purcell
Cyril Cusack ... Edward 'Limey' Cockerell
Richard Hylton ... Clyde Maxwell
Helen Westcott ... Susan Haggerty
Jeanette Nolan ... Harriet Purcell
Ruth Donnelly ... Mary Fancher
Harry Carter ... Rudy Schaeffer


Jim Canfield, convicted of a crime he did not commit, escapes a Nevada prison with several hardened criminals. He leads them to the small farming community home of the man who not only framed him, but committed the crime. But Jim's plans for revenge are put on hold when he discovers that the local men have all joined the posse in the convict's pursuit, leaving their women behind. He soon becomes attracted to the beautiful and resourceful Marcia, who turns out to be the fiance of the man who framed him. Can Jim protect the women from his less-civilized comrades, fall under Marcia's humanizing influence and still maintain his murderous resolve? Written by Chris Stone <jstone@bellatlantic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


6 women at the mercy of the west's most dangerous outlaws !




Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

8 September 1951 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

L'√©nigme du lac noir See more »

Filming Locations:

Bishop, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Although the story is fictional, it is inspired by a real incident in which a posse from a California town had a shoot-out with convicts escaped from the Carson City prison. Convict Lake is a real place in California, named after the incident. See more »


Jim Canfield: You're takin' a lot on yourself, aren't you ma'am? Judge, jury, hangman all wrapped up in pretty skirts? Having yourself a ladies' lynching party?
See more »

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User Reviews

If you're a thief you think everybody steals
26 March 2013 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

The Secret Of Convict Lake is based on the proposition in the title, if you're a thief you think everyone steals. So when Glenn Ford who was framed for a robbery and murder leads a breakout in a Nevada prison and takes six men over the Sierras to a remote town in the foothills. Ford is looking to even the score with the guy that framed him, but the others who include Zachary Scott, Cyril Cusack, Jack Lambert, and Richard Hylton don't believe him, they believe he's hidden the stolen money there.

One of their number dies, frozen to death on a mountaintop, but the others arrive at a small settlement on a mountain lake. The men are gone and the women are led by tough old pioneer lady Ethel Barrymore. Ford has a tough time keeping the others in line, especially Scott who definitely has his own ideas.

It's pretty tough among the women as well, they haven't seen their men for weeks and some of them are looking good. For Barbara Bates especially, a young inexperienced girl who Hylton takes a fancy to. By the way in those days of The Code, Hylton's portrayal of a sex offender was pretty daring.

Barrymore and Gene Tierney are pretty good at reading character and realize Ford is not a real criminal type. How that all works out you have to see The Secret Of Convict Lake.

The film was shot in another remote Sierra town called Bishop, California and in Durango, Colorado. The cinematography is both stark, forbidding, and strangely beautiful. It happens to be based on a true story at a place called Monte Diablo Lake renamed Convict Lake as per the film.

According to Peter Ford's biography of his dad, Glenn sustained a serious eye infection during the shoot and wore a patch over the infected eye when the cameras weren't rolling. He also had a great admiration for Ethel Barrymore as actress. And he and Gene Tierney found each other's company delightful.

The Secret Of Convict Lake is a must for Glenn Ford's legion of fans.

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