Review: The Secret Fury

The Secret Fury is a little known film noir from 1950 directed by Mel Ferrer. It is based on a story by Jack Leonard, Leonard wrote a handful of stories for noir films in the 1950’s. He’s best known work today is The Narrow Margin. Here is a look at my review of The Narrow Margin:

The Secret Fury revolves around our main two characters, Ellen R. Ewing played by Claudette Colbert and David McLean played by Robert Ryan.

This film starts with David trying to get into a party of which he does not have an invitation. On the third attempt he gets in, only to get pulled aside by somebody that notices he does not fit in. The lady of the house brings David upstairs to change, because he is the groom at the wedding going on at the house. He soon changes into his tux while his lovely bride is on the other side of the door getting into her wedding gown.  This film starts out with a bit of a slap stick comedy feel to show off the happy couple.

During the wedding ceremony, when the priest asks if anybody has a reason for these two not to be wed, a man jumps up. He states the bride is already married to another man! When a quick phone call is made to the marriage office of the county in which she is supposedly married, it proves to be true. The couple goes to investigate the marriage in which the bride has no memory. As they show up to this town, everybody remembers her as the happy wife of another man. Her and David soon find the first husband. When Ellen and her supposed first husband meet alone in a different room, we hear a gun shot. As David and the rest of the people flood into the room, we find Ellen standing over her first husband’s dead body and a gun at her feet.

Is Ellen crazy? Is she hiding something? Is she being framed? Does she have amnesia? Will David be able to figure out what is really happening?

This is an interesting film as it starts out as a happy feeling film and slowly gets darker and darker. Robert Ryan shows this change the most throughout the film as he goes from happy groom to an amateur hardboiled P.I.. Colbert is also very good as she goes from the happy bride to a mental case. I don’t know how any Robert Ryan film noir went under the radar for me, but it seems to have flown under the radar for a lot of fans. This is worth watching for film noir fans and Ryan fans especially. It may not be as great as some of Ryan’s other classics, but still worth a viewing.

Re-watching the Classics: The Narrow Margin

Poster - Narrow Margin, The_01

The Narrow Margin is directed by film noir great Richard Fleischer.  Martin Goldsmith and Jack Leonard were nominated for an Academy Award for best writing.  Even though this was an Oscar nominee it is very much a B-movie taking only 13 days to film.  The film stars the queen of the B movie noir Marie Windsor.  The hardboiled detective is played wonderfully by Charles McGraw.  His gravelly voice and great one liners makes for one cool character.

A line from the film as our hero describes what kind of dish our femme fatale is before he meets her: ” Sixty-cent special. Cheap, flashy. Strictly poison under the gravy”

This is also Jacqueline White’s last movie, she got married and moved to Wyoming with her husband after this film.  It was her most successful film.  Hard to say where her career would have gone if she stuck it out a little longer.

The story starts when our femme fatale is being escorted by two L.A. detectives back to L.A. to testify against the mob.  One of our detectives is shot and killed protecting our witness.  Now our hero has to out smart an unknown number of mob hitmen while protecting our femme fatale that he doesn’t really like, on a train with very few places to hide.

Favorite Tidbit:  This film was actually made in 1950 but Howard Hughes who owned the studio at the time heard good things about it and wanted to view it before its release.  He forgot about it while it sat in his projector room for over a year.  The other story of the delay is Hughes liked it so much he wanted to change it from a B-movie to an A-Movie and putting Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell in it.

The Narrow Margin was remade in 1990, I haven’t seen the remake since it came out.  I’ve watched the original many times in the last few years.  I will have to re-look at the remake and compare it to the original at a later date.

This is a classic that should be seen by any film noir fan!  If you haven’t seen it in awhile go watch it right now!