A Woman’s Secret (1949) and Hollywood story (1951), two flicks that carry a film noir classification on IMDB which I watched in the past week, I found to be hardly noir at all.
A Woman’s Secret, an RKO-feature, has great credentials. The movie is directed by Nicholas Ray from a screenplay from Herman J. Mankiewicz, with photography from George Diskant, and starring Maureen O’Hara, Melvyn Douglas, and Gloria Grahame. It starts off noir with a shooting off-screen, and the use of flashback in the narrative, but plays out as sophisticated melodrama with a biting wit, and some really funny slapstick when the wife of the investigating cop does her own snooping with a handbag carrying fingerprint powder and a giant magnifying glass. The story of the conflict between a naive young singer (Grahame) and her controlling mentor (O’Hara), has shades of All About Eve but this motif is not taken too seriously. The two female leads are charming, with Grahame displaying an engaging gift for comedy. Melvyn Douglas is as debonair as you would expect and takes the role of narrator and referee. Great fun.
Hollywood Story is a programmer from Universal that has a 50s television feel. Richard Conte is a producer in LA that wants to make a movie about the murder of a big silent movie director 20 odd years before, and his delving into the past has violent consequences. A strictly b-effort that plays well as a whodunit with noir atmospherics, and some really funny lines.