NO MAN OF HER OWN is a story of mistaken identity,blackmail,murder – and mother love – and Barbara Stanwyck in every scene!
It is the story of Helen Ferguson (Barbara Stanwyck) and the circumstances that lead her into a double life.
Helen is in a train crash and is mistaken for a victim Patrice Harkness (Phyllis Thaxter). Helen and her baby are welcomed into the Harkness home as the daughter-in-law they’ve never met.
Although she is always on edge because of her deceit,her only concern is her baby son.
But her past catches up with her when she receives a telegram. Her life starts to unravel as Steve Morley ( Lyle Bettger ) turns up with blackmail on his mind. He is the father of her child and threatens to expose her.
In a downhill spiral,Helen realises Morley will never leave her alone and what follows leads to Morley’s death.
One memorable scene near the beginning has a desperate Helen,pregnant and penniless,wearily carrying a suitcase up a flight of stairs.She knocks on a door but there is no answer.She calls out,”Steve,let me in.I don’t know anyone in New York.I haven’t any money.” Inside is Steve and his girlfriend Irma (Carole Mathews). He puts a railway ticket and a $5 dollar bill in an envelope and slips it under the door.Helen takes out the ticket – it’s a one way ticket, New York to San Francisco.The money falls to the floor unnoticed. She wipes her tears and struggles back down the stairs.
Barbara is so good in this scene and the slimy Steve is such a coward, he cant even face her.
His hard looking girlfriend says to him, “Don’t ever try to brush me off like that.”
Cast members include John Lund and Jane Cowl ,both of whom provide excellent support for Barbara. I was particularly impressed by Jane Cowl whom I had never seen before. She was a stage actress who only made a handful of films in the last years of her life – she died in 1950 not long after the film’s release. She looked so comfortable and assured on the screen and played Mrs Harkness (whose son and daughter in law were killed in the train crash) with such warmth and sweetness.
The title is the only weak part of this film – the overseas title, THE LIE far better describes the story. And No Man of Her Own might be confused with a 1932 film of the same name.
Barbara’s performance conveys all Helen Ferguson’s vulnerability,anxiety,despair and constant fear of exposure.It’s a complex and compelling character,and a great role for Barbara. With its release on dvd,I hope No Man Of Her Own will jump up the list of Barbara’s best performances.
Based on a Cornell Woolrich story,”I Married A Dead Man”,the film was directed by Mitchell Leisen.
This review is part of the BARBARA STANWYCK BLOGATHON. Hope you’ll pay a visit. there is so much to read about Barbara.