Shadow of a Woman (1946)

Shadow of a Woman (1946)

The plot and the acting performed by its cast make it very difficult to stay engaged in this below average noirish drama making it a poor “thriller”. As convoluted unusual and somewhat confusing as the story is to begin with the characterizations also don’t provide anyone with whom an audience can identify with or trust such that one just doesn’t care about them or what happens. Directed by Joseph Santley it was written by Whitman Chambers and C. Graham Baker from a story by Virginia Perdue. It’s about a woman who marries a man she’s only known for a week and gets what she deserves (though unfortunately not completely).

It begins with Brooke Gifford Ryder (Andrea King) in a police detective’s (Paul Harvey uncredited & Monte Blue) office relating the events of “what happened” (e.g. in flashback). Evidently she’d married a man (Helmut Dantine) who is some kind of dietician “doctor” one who mistrusts all other doctors their medicines and operations and instead relies on an unusual diet and rest to “cure” his patients. As it turns out Dr. Eric Ryder’s patients are dying off too weak for their immune systems to fight whatever ails them. Additionally Ryder is in the midst of a custody battle with his ex-wife Louise (Peggy Knudsen) over his son Philip (Larry Geiger). But per a lie Louise told him Ryder doesn’t really believe that the son is his biologically. So he is trying to starve Philip to death like all his other patients. Philip lives in a large house with his “father” Eric along with Ryder’s sister Emma (Lisa Golm) and her son Carl (John Alvin) who of course is also being “treated” by Ryder for a bad leg (however Carl’s leg heals remarkably later when he needs it before the story’s climax). Louise’s lawyer David MacKellar (William Prince) with his photographer (Don McGuire) “dogs” Ryder throughout the movie which eventually leads to the film’s unearned and incredulous ending.

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