Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Tonight's Movie: The Woman on Pier 13 (1949) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Laraine Day and Robert Ryan star in RKO's THE WOMAN ON PIER 13 (1949), available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

The movie, also known as I MARRIED A COMMUNIST, tells the story of Nan (Day), who marries shipping executive Brad Collins (Ryan) after knowing him for less than a week.

Brad and Nan's blissful happiness lasts less than a day, as Brad's old flame Christine (Janis Carter, FRAMED) runs into the happy couple on their honeymoon. Brad shoos Christine off but within days she's back in his life, this time as part of a blackmail plot against Brad. It seems that when he knew Christine way back when, he went by a different name and was a member of the Communist Party.

Brad has long since left Communism behind, with his rags to riches rise a true American success story, but the Communist Party wants him back. Christine, local party boss Vanning (Thomas Gomez), and killer Bailey (William Talman) will stop at nothing to force Brad's cooperation, including threatening to go to the police and accuse Brad of a murder charge dating from the '30s.

Meanwhile the new Mrs. Collins is very confused about her husband's growing emotional distance...and worried when her younger brother (John Agar) starts dating Christine.

This film directed by Robert Stevenson and shot by the great Nicholas Musuraca has its moments, thanks chiefly to the lead actors and Musuraca's photography, but all in all it's a disappointing film.

You won't find me belittling postwar concerns about Communism with decades-later 20/20 hindsight; my issue is more that the movie simply isn't very well constructed. It holds the attention okay but it's a pretty one-note film; for most of the short 73-minute running time the theme is blackmail by the nasty Communists and not much else. The appealing romance of the charismatic Ryan and attractive Day receives short shrift, as does any substantive development of their characters.

Gomez was a fine actor who had been Oscar nominated for RIDE THE PINK HORSE (1947) but his character here has no subtlety; indeed, he's more of a cartoon, as are the other bad guys.

All in all this brisk film is worth a look for those who like the leads and film noir, and it's also of note for anyone interested in the treatment of Communism in '40s-'50s Hollywood, but beyond that it's kind of a disappointing ride.

The supporting cast includes Richard Rober, Paul Guilfoyle, Paul E. Burns, and Harry Cheshire.

There are a few noticeable scratches but for the most part the Warner Archive DVD is a good print, without skips or jumps. There are no extras.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


Blogger James Brannan said...

Dear Laura,

Greetings from the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society! This is a fine article! I appreciate that you review the plot and then honestly and simply express your opinion of the film.

I, Rebekah Brannan, have not participated much in the blog world in the past, but I intend to become more involved now.

I would like very much for you to participate in my upcoming blogathon, The Singing Sweethearts Blogathon, which will be my first real participation in PEPS. This blogathon, which will be hosted around Valentine's Day, is celebrating the famous singing team Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy.

You can read the rules of the blogathon at: https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2017/12/20/ring-the-assembly-bell-here-comes-the-singing-sweethearts-blogathon/. If you want to join, please comment and tell me your topic, if you have chosen one. I hope you'll join me in honoring this brilliant team and the holiday of love!


Rebekah Brannan

7:39 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks, Rebekah, for sharing the news on the upcoming blogathon celebrating two favorites, Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. I hope my readers will check it out!

Best wishes,

4:22 PM  
Blogger James Brannan said...

Dear Laura,

I'm sorry I didn't respond sooner, but I didn't see your comment until now. Thank you for your kind wishes and support. I hope that you will be able to participate in our next blogathon!

Thank you!


Rebekah Brannan

8:21 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older