Robert Young stars in The Second Woman (1951) as the soft-spoken grieving widow who people suspect has lost his mind.
Betsy Drake plays the woman who loves him & refuses to believe he is mad & sets about as amateur detective get to the root of the matter.
Young as architect Jeff Cohalan has become reclusive since the accidental death of his wife. A local doctor believes Jeff has become paranoic & may be dangerously psychotic.
Someone is destroying everything that Jeff loves. His roses & his prize German shepard are poisoned. His horse is maimed & has to be put down. His favorite art treasures are destroyed, his career is sabotaged. Even his prized house on the cliff's edge is burnt to the ground.
Is he his own persecutor driven by subconscious guilt to punish himself over the death of his wife?
Or is there someone really persecuting him? And whichever is the case, wouldn't the last living thing he loves be Ellen, making her next to die?
It's quite a tense little film & the mystery follows a logical course without cheating the audience with mere gimmicks. The influence of Hitchcock is palpable & the original film posters asked that it be compared to Spellbound.
Even if much of the film is closer to a Lady's Gothic than a film noir, there are nevertheless some superb shadowy scenes that make one wonder if Robert Young really is the psycho after all, especially when his shadow looms up the staircase as he stalks toward his girlfriend's room with hand on pistol.
It also has some interesting set design. The well-positioned fake dead trees are sinister omens. Ellen lives in a cliff-edge Victorian mansion symbolic of comfort & home. Jeff lives in an Atomic Age modern home symbolic of sterility & death. In all, a good film well played.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl