Here's another in my series of posts looking back at individual movie screenings at this spring's TCM Classic Film Festival!
One of the films I most enjoyed at this year's festival was HER SISTER'S SECRET (1946), a little-known movie from the Poverty Row studio Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC). The movie was screened in a 35mm print, preserved by the UCLA Film and Television Archive.
Edgar G. Ulmer, which will also include a 2005 documentary on Ulmer, EDGAR G. ULMER - THE MAN OFF-SCREEN.
The other Ulmer films screening on TCM that night are Marsha Hunt in CARNEGIE HALL (1947), Paul Langton and Barbara Payton in the oddball MURDER IS MY BEAT (1955), Tom Neal and Ann Savage in the low-budget noir classic DETOUR (1945), and Marguerite Chapman, Douglas Kennedy, and James Griffith in THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN (1960).
HER SISTER'S SECRET is fairly unusual for the mid '40s insofar as it deals at length with unwed pregnancy. There were other films made on this topic in that era, such as TO EACH HIS OWN (1946), but it was still fairly daring subject matter for the Production Code era. Anne Green's screenplay was loosely based on a novel by Gina Kaus titled DARK ANGEL.
The title HER SISTER'S SECRET has a double meaning, referring to one sister's secret pregnancy and the other's secret adoption of the baby.
Toni DuBois (Nancy Coleman) falls in love with soldier Dick Connolly (Phillip Reed) during a WWII-era Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans, but when he ships out and they lose contact she finds herself in a desperate situation, alone, unmarried, and pregnant.
After giving the baby to Renee Toni stays away for an extended period, but as time passes she can't resist the chance to see the child, triggering territorial conflict with Renee. And when Dick unexpectedly reenters the picture, things become even more complicated.
Franz (Frank) Planer. The film has a great sense of mood, whether the setting is a masked party in New Orleans or a comfortable apartment in New York. Coleman and Lindsay are always very watchable actresses, and this film is no exception. The movie also offers a small but attractive role for Regis Toomey as the likeable Bill.
Horak was quoted in Noah Isenberg's book EDGAR G. ULMER: A FILMMAKER AT THE MARGINS as saying "For a B-picture, the film demonstrated an unusual sensitivity for the complexity of human emotions, for the giddiness of great love affairs, for the difficulty of motherhood, and for the barely repressed jealousy between siblings." As the Ulmer book notes, HER SISTER'S SECRET is considered by some critics to anticipate Douglas Sirk's 1950s melodramas, which included another title I saw at the festival, WRITTEN ON THE WIND (1956).
passed away just a few weeks ago.) Winston posted a comment on IMDb with his vague memories of making the film; he was just three years old at the time!
The supporting cast of HER SISTER'S SECRET includes Felix Bressart, Henry Stephenson, and Fritz Feld. Members of the Unofficial Bess Flowers Fan Club may be interested to know that this is one of her credits which is not included at IMDb; she can be spotted dancing at a restaurant.
I hope my readers will make it a point to check out this interesting and rather unusual film on TCM this October!
March 2015 Update: Here is an account of seeing the film again at the UCLA Festival of Preservation, with Jan-Christopher Horak, Arianne Ulmer Cipes, and Winston Severn in attendance.