Review: The Woman on Pier 13

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The Woman on Pier 13 is a film noir released in 1950. In 1949 it was released in Los Angles and San Francisco under the title I Married a Communist to a poor reception, hence the name change before its more wide release.

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This film was directed by Robert Stevenson, who directed a number of lesser known film noir through out his early career before finding a home at Disney and directing some of their classic live action film.

The film stars one of noir’s greats, Robert Ryan as Brad Collins, who has just got married to Nan, played by Laraine Day. While on their honeymoon they run into Christine, played by Janis Carter. Christine is a bit of a femme fatale for this story and has a past with Brad when they both lived back in New Jersey. We soon learn both were part of the Communist Party back in New Jersey and Christine still is. With Brad now a big wig with the dock workers, the Party wants to use him to their advantage.

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Will Brad be able to break his ties to the “Party?” Will Christine bring him back into the fold?

John Agar plays Nan’s brother and is involved with the union, Thomas Gomez plays a higher up in the Communist Party, and look for William Talman as hired muscle for the Party in one of his earliest film roles. My surprise standout for this film is Janis Carter who starts out as a classic femme fatale and grows more of a heart as the film goes on.

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This film was a very good noir worth watching if you can see beyond the propaganda against the Communist Party. This film portrays the Party more like a heartless Mafia organization then a political party. Some might find the way the Communists are viewed as a nice time capsule to how afraid American’s where of the Reds.  Robert Ryan is great as always in his role as a man that made a mistake in his youth and has to pay for his past sins.

If you are a fan of Robert Ryan and other small budget film noir for R.K.O. you will find this one just as entertaining.

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