Woman in Hiding (1950)

Ida Lupino, Stephen McNally, Howard Duff, Peggy Dow,
Woman in Hiding is a movie starring Ida Lupino, Stephen McNally, and Howard Duff. After her father is killed in an accident, mill heiress Deborah Chandler marries the plant manager, Selden Clark, but his motives are suspicious.
  • 6.9 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Oscar Saul, Roy Huggins, James Webb, Writer:
  • Michael Gordon, Director:
  • Michael Kraike, Producer:
8 / 10

Lupino imperiled, Duff to rescue: Above-average thriller

We first hear Ida Lupino's voice, in sepulchral voice-over, as we watch the wreck of a car that has plummeted over a bridge in North Carolina. "That's my body they're looking for..." she informs us. She's having a bad year; her father has died suddenly in an "accident" in the mill he owned and she up and married its general manager (Steven McNally), whom her father loathed (with reason: McNally killed him). On her wedding night she learned the truth about McNally (who seemed to specialize in deranged, controlling husbands, as in Make Haste to Live), and, trying to flee, found herself in a vehicle which he had rendered brakeless.

She's presumed dead, leaving McNally to inherit the mill (his plan all along), but just to be sure he puts out a reward for finding her. And Howard Duff, a newsstand clerk at a bus station in a nearby town, spots her, now blonde and on the lam. They strike a few sparks, but McNally convinces Duff that Lupino is emotionally disturbed, insuring that she'll be institutionalized and under his thumb.

All in all, Woman in Hiding's title says it all: It's a fairly standard woman-in-distress picture, but one with a superior cast. In addition to the tried-and-true team of Lupino and Duff (they were married at te time), Peggy Dow invests her few brief scenes as a ruthless rival for McNally's attention with memorable flair. The film looks good, too, especially in the darkened mill at the conclusion -- a conclusion which anticipates by a couple of years that of Sudden Fear, in which Joan Crawford fends of a homicidal busband who's got a bad girl on the side. Woman in Hiding is no masterpiece, nor is it one of Lupino's best performances, but it's well made, swift and satisfying.

7 / 10

Honeymooning with Ida Lupino

As the opening credits roll, newly wedded Ida Lupino (as Deborah Chandler) desperately tries to stop herself from crashing her car. In an attempted murder, the brakes have been disabled. We see the car drive off a North Carolina bridge and listen to Ms. Lupino's ghostly narration. But don't assume she's dead, or that the accident ends the story? After the prologue fails to uncover a dead body, we begin earlier. Inheriting a profitable mill upon the subsequently suspicious death of her father, Lupino marries the plant's general manager Stephen McNally (as Selden Clark). Apparently, they were a long-term couple; the wedding is the first of several implausible story developments. Lupino asks, "Why didn't I see it?" Don't know...

When they arrive at Mr. McNally's mountain cabin for a honeymoon, sexy Peggy Dow (as Patricia Monahan) is waiting. She reveals herself as McNally's "little business trips" lover and is understandably furious with Lupino's presence. After husband and lover smack each other around, Lupino decides she wants the marriage annulled, but McNally refuses. Lupino runs off, changes her name to "Ann Carter" and tries to hide from her homicidal husband. She meets handsome and helpful Howard Duff (as Keith Ramsey), but he isn't sure who is telling the truth. Beautiful black-and-white photography by William Daniels, effective direction from Michael Gordon and engaging performances make "Woman in Hiding" well worth following.

******* Woman in Hiding (12/27/49) Michael Gordon ~ Ida Lupino, Howard Duff, Stephen McNally, Peggy Dow

6 / 10

Effective "lady in distress" tale with Lupino as woman on the run...

As in almost all of these suspenseful melodramas from the '50s, there are certain lapses in logic throughout WOMAN IN HIDING that had me shaking my head in disbelief. Some of the choices that Lupino makes as the vulnerable heroine are too foolhardy to be believable, but once the plot starts rolling there's no turning away.

A particularly bad choice is the scene where she casually gets into a car with Peggy Dow, a scorned woman who is leading her into a trap which brings her right back to the man (Stephen McNally) she is hiding from at a dark and sinister mill.

But despite such motivational flaws, the film manages to be a better than average melodrama with all three leads--Ida Lupino, Howard Duff and Stephen McNally--giving expert performances.

Most effective aspect is the tight pace of the story and the film noir look of the B&W photography. Ida Lupino gives another one of her tense performances as she gets caught up in the excessive manipulations of McNally who is intent on killing her to inherit her father's mill. Howard Duff tries to help once he understands her fears and from that point on the story leaps forward to a satisfying ending involving a trick later used to good effect in Joan Crawford's "Sudden Fear." Not a great film, but a satisfying "lady in distress" melodrama.

7 / 10

There's trouble at mill.

Woman in Hiding is directed by Michael Gordon and adapted to screenplay by Oscar Saul and Roy Huggins from a story by James Webb. It stars Ida Lupino, Stephen McNally, Howard Duff and Peggy Dow. Music is by Milton Schwarzwald and cinematography by William H. Daniels.

After the mysterious death of her father, a quickfire marriage to a hugely suspicious man, and an attempt on her life, Deborah Chandler Clark (Lupino) is forced to assume a new identity and go into hiding...

No great shakes as regards the plot line, it's a standard woman in peril piece, where we the viewers know what's going on and only really await for what we hope is a punchy resolution to it all. However, overcoming the simplicity of formula, it's a film nicely constructed and performed, with plenty of suspense, tightly wound anticipation and some very pleasing visual accompaniments.

Opening with a guarded voice over from Lupino''s character, mood is nicely set at noir influenced. From here we quickly get to know the principle players and are quickly on Deborah's side. Peril and emotional pain is never far away with Gordon (The Web) and ace photographer Daniels (The Naked City) complicit in mood enhancements. Cue a cabin at nighttime bathed in oppressive moonlight, shadowed window bars striking facial menace - and as Deborah's peril grows greater - an imposing staircase ripe for a dastardly deed, Then we hit the last quarter of film and the quality really shines through. A steam train at night is grand, a splendid setting, but that is just a precursor to the exciting denouement at the deserted mill of Deborah's birthright. Daniels excels, his photography straight out of a noir fever dream, all while the industrial churning of the mill machinery adds impetus to the thrilling conclusion.

It needed more of a black heart as per outcome to be a definitive noir pic, but it comes safely recommended to noir enthusiasts regardless. 7/10

7 / 10

One Note Onslaught of Jangled Nerves and Jitters

This film is wound a bit too tight for its own good. Mostly because of the incredibly intense performance from Ida Lupino who manages to almost melt the screen. It is a relentless one-note onslaught of jangled nerves and jitters.

What's needed here is a contrasting scene or two to let things settle a little. There are some good moments but the anxious anxiety quickly destroys the drama and we are off to the races once again. The hotel convention scene is almost unbearable in its loud and ridiculous rendering of a confrontational setup that is suppose to be suspenseful and claustrophobic.

The ending looks ominous enough and the factory setting has a film-noir feel that is missing in most of the film and the subtlety of shadows would have been a welcome relief from the persistent, pulsating, and predictable performances.