39 user 6 critic

The Second Woman (1950)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery | 7 July 1950 (USA)
In flashback from a 'Rebecca'-style beginning: Ellen Foster, visiting her aunt on the California coast, meets neighbor Jeff Cohalan and his ultramodern clifftop house. Ellen is strongly ... See full summary »


James V. Kern


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Complete credited cast:
Robert Young ... Jeffrey Cohalan
Betsy Drake ... Ellen Foster
John Sutton ... Keith Ferris
Florence Bates ... Amelia Foster
Morris Carnovsky ... Dr. Hartley
Henry O'Neill ... Ben Sheppard
Jean Rogers ... Dodo Ferris
Raymond Largay Raymond Largay ... Major Badger
Shirley Ballard Shirley Ballard ... Vivian Sheppard
Vici Raaf ... Secretary
Jason Robards Sr. ... Stacy Rogers (as Jason Robards)
Steven Geray ... Balthazar Jones
Jimmie Dodd ... Mr. Nelson (as Jimmy Dodd)
Smoki Whitfield Smoki Whitfield ... Porter (scenes deleted)
Cliff Clark ... Police Sergeant


In flashback from a 'Rebecca'-style beginning: Ellen Foster, visiting her aunt on the California coast, meets neighbor Jeff Cohalan and his ultramodern clifftop house. Ellen is strongly attracted to Jeff, who's being plagued by unexplainable accidents, major and minor. Bad luck, persecution...or paranoia? Warned that Jeff could be dangerous, Ellen fears that he's in danger, as the menacing atmosphere darkens. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


As overpowering as "Wuthering Heights"... See more »


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

7 July 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Here Lies Love See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


At the beginning of the movie Robert Young's character tries to commit suicide by running his car engine in an enclosed garage, then in flashback is told by a doctor that he's concerned about Young's recurring bouts of depression. In real life, Young suffered from depression for decades and tried to commit suicide in Westlake Village, CA in January 1991 by running a hose from his exhaust pipe into the interior of his car. Authorities were alerted after Young called a tow truck to try to start his car. The driver noticed the hose and contacted the police. See more »


In the opening scene, Robert Young's character is discovered suffocated by heavy carbon monoxide in a sealed garage, but nobody else coming in the garage is affected by the deadly gas. Additionally, unless a car is burning oil or running very rich, exhaust fumes are not visible as was shown here. This reveals some type of smoke or vapor was used, not an actual auto exhaust. See more »


Jeff Cohalan: Let's see what the tea leaves say about you... there's a trick my grandmother taught me; she learned it from an old witch in Ireland.
Ellen Foster: And so you've been drinking coffee ever since.
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References Rebecca (1940) See more »


Francesca da Rimini
Written by Peter Ilich Tchaikowsky
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A Truly Intelligent "B" Myystery; One of the Real Sleepers of Noir in Every Way
26 June 2005 | by silverscreen888See all my reviews

This fine "B" film project is basically a psychological film, in the category of the many 1940s and 50s films that were made to explore depth-of-character and motivation. The idea their producers had was to go beyond the inspector calling and assembling suspects in the drawing room to detail who'd done a murder; in the newer mysteries, emphasis was placed upon gradually discovering clues and lines of inquiry, upon revealing actions, pretenses, questionings and complex relationships. This "modern" peeling away of layers of truth relating to an old crime's influence often works brilliantly in my judgment, especially in this movie, Not the least of this unpretentious and beautifully- photographed work's accomplishments is its avoidance of Freudian and false notions that so often muddy attempts to understand individuals' characters in film; Freud applies only to totalitarian societies. Here the investigator is in fact a beautiful woman, very intelligently played as insurance expert and woman-in-love by Betsy Drake. The object of her interest is a man who may or may not be crazy, well-portrayed by Robert Young. He has been suffering a series of accidents or breakdowns that are ruining his life; he has begun to doubt his own sanity. But she insightfully feelss someone is trying to wreck his career and his hopes for happiness. Their search for the perpetrator of the acts being done against him help them to unravel the mystery of his late wife's death and the secrets of the usual nasty small United States town and its equally small-minded citizens (a favorite target of intellectuals in the period, genuinely or not). The director was James V. Kerns, the cinematographer Hal Mohr, whose work was outstanding also. The cast apart from the attractive and bright leads was comprised of Morris Carnovsky, Jean Rogers, Steven Geray, Shirley Ballard, John Sutton and Florence Bates, all well-cast and in top form.. This film was an attempt to do on a low-budget what "Spellbound" had been able to accomplish; the house architect Young designs is outstanding modern architecture; the music by Bernard Nussbaum and the Tschaikovsky excerpts used are I believe add to the atmosphere very nicely. And the relations between characters, acerbic or warm, are unusually well-realized in dialogs and blocking.. This is a true sleeper, with its roots in "The Fountainhead"; and one that deserves much more attention that it has ever received; many elements of an intriguing mystery-noir storyline are quite successfully filmed here indeed.

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