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No Man of Her Own

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No Man of Her Own
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMitchell Leisen
Produced byRichard Maibaum
Screenplay bySally Benson
Catherine Turney
Based onthe novel I Married a Dead Man
by Cornell Woolrich
StarringBarbara Stanwyck
John Lund
Phyllis Thaxter
Jane Cowl
Lyle Bettger
Music byHugo Friedhofer
CinematographyDaniel L. Fapp
Edited byAlma Macrorie
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • February 21, 1950 (1950-02-21) (United States)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States

No Man of Her Own is a 1950 American film noir drama directed by Mitchell Leisen and featuring Barbara Stanwyck, John Lund, Phyllis Thaxter, Jane Cowl and Lyle Bettger.[1]

It was the second film Stanwyck made with director Mitchell Leisen and it was based on the Cornell Woolrich novel I Married a Dead Man. Woolrich is credited as William Irish in the film's opening credits.


Helen Ferguson, filled with dread, holds her baby as Bill Harkness reads a book. The phone rings, and police tell Bill that they are on the way to their home. She puts the child to bed, praying that the boy will not suffer for her mistakes and whispering that she was desperate.

A year earlier, Helen is eight months pregnant and unmarried. She goes to her unfaithful boyfriend Stephen Morley for help, but all he gives her is a train ticket back to San Francisco, where she comes from. Helen's train crashes, and she is mistaken for another pregnant woman, Patrice Harkness, who was killed in the crash. Helen gives birth to her child in the hospital and is accepted by the Harknesses, the family of the dead woman's husband, Hugh Harkness, who was also killed in the train crash. Since the family has never seen their son's new wife, they believe Helen to be her and, for the sake of her child, she doesn't disabuse them of the notion. The family decides her lapses of memory and uncertain behavior are after-effects of the train wreck. With a better life provided for her son, Helen continues the ruse while Bill Harkness, who is the brother of the deceased Hugh, falls in love with her.

Helen's ex-boyfriend, the father of her child, tracks her down several months after the accident. Stephen was called in to identify the body at the morgue after the train accident, but instead of telling the truth, he said that the dead woman was Helen. After figuring out that she is living under an assumed identity and that she has wealthy in-laws, he blackmails Helen into giving him a check for $500 and marrying him. She gets a gun, goes to Stephen's office, where he is living, and finds him dead on his bed but fires the gun at him. Bill comes to the office and helps Helen dispose of the body and conceal evidence of her relationship to Stephen. Bill and his mother have realized that Helen is in trouble and, because they love her regardless of her past, will do anything they can to protect her.

Bill's mother dies of heart failure, but not before writing a letter that she gives to her maid, making her swear to give it to Helen only if police come for her. In the letter, Mrs. Harkness claims to have killed Stephen, which she could not have done. Three months later, when police find his body and the check Helen gave to him, they do come for her. Helen confesses to shooting him, but she is told that her bullet missed him and was found in his mattress, that a bullet of another caliber was found in his body, and that his girlfriend has confessed to shooting him. Bill and Helen embrace.



Critical response

Film critic Bosley Crowther was harsh in his review of the film, calling it "a lurid and artificial tale, loaded with far-fetched situations and deliberate romantic clichés. And the script which Sally Benson and Catherine Turney prepared from a novel by William Irish (I Married a Dead Man) makes a silly botch of same. This sort of female agonizing, in which morals are irresponsibly confused for the sake of effect, makes diversion for none but the suckers, we feel sure."[2]

Variety magazine was more upbeat in its review: "No Man of Her Own combines an adult love story with melodrama, runs off with the intensity of a full-bloom soap opera, and is altogether satisfying screen dramatics... Barbara Stanwyck does a beautiful job of portraying the heroine [and] John Lund wraps up his role as the man who falls in love with a girl he believes to be the widow of his dead brother. It’s a fine job."[3]


The film was remade several times: The Japanese film Shisha to no Kekkon (1960), the Brazilian TV miniseries A Intrusa (1962), the French film J'ai épousé une ombre (1983), and by Hollywood again with Mrs. Winterbourne (1996), starring Shirley MacLaine, Ricki Lake and Brendan Fraser.[4] There is also a 1970 Super hit Bollywood remake, Kati Patang, for which Asha Parekh won the Filmfare Best Actress Award.[5]

See also


  1. ^ No Man of Her Own at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  2. ^ Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times film review, May 4, 1950. Accessed: August 16, 2013.
  3. ^ Variety. Staff film review, 1950. Accessed: August 16, 2013.
  4. ^ Thomas S. Hishak, American Literature on Stage and Screen: 525 Works and their Adaptations. McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers (2012). p. 99
  5. ^ Corliss, Richard (16 December 2003). "That Old Feeling: Fear Noir" – via

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