Stanwyck: “No Man of Her Own”

No Man of Her Own” (1950) is a complex film noir starring Barbara Stanwyck that’s just been released on DVD. It must have been considered somewhat daring for its time, given that the start of the film features a young woman (Stanwyck) who is pregnant and unmarried.

In the typically more elliptical fashion of the time—an approach that also makes it more enjoyable to watch, in my opinion—it’s never stated explicitly what has happened, but is rather shown through the dress she wears, her desperate pleas, and the one-way ticket her former boyfriend has just given her. As with many noirs, we are given access to the story through a long flashback—we know that serious trouble is at hand, but must be shown how the couple in front of us got to their present dilemma. The flashback takes us to Stanwyck’s anguished situation and her subsequent train journey, during which a young married couple who are also expecting take pity on her, not knowing her full story. I won’t give away the rest of the story here, but let’s just say that things get very complicated for Miss Stanwyck very quickly. She and her baby must hide behind a cover that will inevitably be exposed, but to whom and how and why is a lot of the fun (if that’s the right word).

In addition to the plot, I also enjoyed the settings–the way it went from big city to train car to small, Midwestern, snow-bound town with a lovely old family mansion that becomes the centerpiece for this wonderful gem from the tail-end of Hollywood’s Golden Era.

 

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Written by David

David



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