Thursday, September 7, 2023

Noir Watch: The Secret Fury (1950)

Watched:  09/05/2023
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  First
Director:  Mel Ferrer

What a weird, weird movie.  

And not *good* weird.  

The movie features the great Claudette Colbert and Signal Watch fave Robert Ryan, but the story itself is a mess, leaning almost to camp.  

Part crime drama, all melodrama, The Secret Fury (1950) follows a society woman (Colbert) moments from saying I do to her beau (Ryan) when someone DOES say "I object", claiming Colbert is already married.  To her knowledge, Colbert has never been married, but when multiple witnesses claim she was married - and not that long ago - she now believes she may have gone mad, losing time.

The very premise, however, makes no sense and is based on the notion that people really get married after knowing each other for about 8 hours, which was quite the Hollywood trope for the first 70 years or so.  And it also assumes Colbert wouldn't see whomever murdered someone right before her eyes.  And that Ryan's character would make a completely unbuyable decision to leave Colbert alone with a strange man claiming to be her husband.

You cannot set up a mystery movie where the audience is thinking "well, the sane way to get to the bottom of this would be to X, Y and Z" and you do G, T and F.  But here we are.  


It's difficult to buy the premise when it's getting rolled out.  The script doesn't do anything to say "actually, there could be lost time" or give the lead any reason to doubt herself.  What starts off as a bananas plot spins off into a gaslighting story that seems based on, at best, circumstantial evidence, an odd number of accomplices and midway through has a trial that's ridiculous to even the most flexible audience.  But everyone seems incredibly ready to believe a complete rando or two, and it seems like their plan is to make her stay married to this person they haven't found yet and nobody knows.

But, yeah, the villainous plot relies on the idea that random people would all be bought to make up a story about how Colbert having been seen by them on her wedding day.  And that someone would kill everyone who might spill, which... seems like a bad plan?

The villain's motive, revealed in the film's final minutes, was to get revenge on Colbert's deceased father - who first accidentally put the villain in an insane asylum, and then spent the rest of his life making it up to the guy - getting him a lucrative job and a position in society?

I dunno.  This movie was just dumb with some good moments.  But it makes everyone kind of an idiot to make the plot work, and that's never much fun.  

As Eddie pointed out in the afterward portion on TCM, the creepiest part is the psychologist who keeps proclaiming how she is correct and knows what's best for everyone - and I can't tell at all if she was supposed to just be a dupe or an unintentionally malicious character.  She suuuuucks.

Anyway, a curiosity of a movie, mostly because of having a high profile star like Colbert in such a goofy movie.  

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