No Man of Her Own (1950)

97-98 mins | Melodrama | May 1950

Director:

Mitchell Leisen

Producer:

Richard Maibaum

Cinematographer:

Daniel L. Fapp

Editor:

Alma Macrorie

Production Designers:

Hans Dreier, Henry Bumstead

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were With This Ring , The Lie , They Call Me Patrice and I Married a Dead Man . Cornell Woolrich's story was originally titled "They Call Me Patrice" and was first published in Today's Woman magazine. He then published the story as a novel titled I Married a Dead Man under the pseudonym William Irish. In a modern interview, director Mitchell Leisen, stated that he wrote a screenplay based on the novel after turning down Sally Benson's initial screenplay. Leisen added that Catherine Turney wrote the opening of the film, and that he did not take screen credit because he was not a member of the Screen Writer's Guild. A script in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library confirms that Leisen contributed to the screenplay, but does not indicate the extent of his contribution.
       According to a NYT news item, Barbara Stanwyck's character was originally written as a prostitute. Although information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library does not confirm this, the NYT article noted that the PCA refused to approve the script because according to the Production Code, a character portrayed as a prostitute would have to pay for her "sin" by death, and Leisen was not "willing to accept such a tragic ending."
       Information in the MPAA/PCA Collection reveals that the PCA rejected the initial script in May 1949, after determining that "it has a very definite flavor justifying murder as a means of getting rid of a blackmailer." The PCA added the following in their letter to Paramount: "Your sympathetic leads are ... More Less

The working titles of this film were With This Ring , The Lie , They Call Me Patrice and I Married a Dead Man . Cornell Woolrich's story was originally titled "They Call Me Patrice" and was first published in Today's Woman magazine. He then published the story as a novel titled I Married a Dead Man under the pseudonym William Irish. In a modern interview, director Mitchell Leisen, stated that he wrote a screenplay based on the novel after turning down Sally Benson's initial screenplay. Leisen added that Catherine Turney wrote the opening of the film, and that he did not take screen credit because he was not a member of the Screen Writer's Guild. A script in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library confirms that Leisen contributed to the screenplay, but does not indicate the extent of his contribution.
       According to a NYT news item, Barbara Stanwyck's character was originally written as a prostitute. Although information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library does not confirm this, the NYT article noted that the PCA refused to approve the script because according to the Production Code, a character portrayed as a prostitute would have to pay for her "sin" by death, and Leisen was not "willing to accept such a tragic ending."
       Information in the MPAA/PCA Collection reveals that the PCA rejected the initial script in May 1949, after determining that "it has a very definite flavor justifying murder as a means of getting rid of a blackmailer." The PCA added the following in their letter to Paramount: "Your sympathetic leads are guilty respectively of deliberate attempted murder, and of seriously interfering with the process of justice, which misdemeanors they successfully conceal from the police." The PCA suggested that the producers "introduc[e] an important stronger voice for morality" and that they "rewrite the end...so that Helen and Bill definitely confess to the police their illegal activities, and have the police indicate that they will have to stand ready to face the consequences." Actor Lyle Bettger made his feature film debut in this picture.
       Woolrich's novel was the basis for two other films: I Married a Shadow , a 1982 French production, directed by Robin Davis and starring Nathalie Baye and Francis Huster; and the 1996 Tristar release Mrs. Winterbourne , directed by Richard Benjamin and starring Shirley MacLaine and Ricki Lake. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
25 Feb 1950.
---
Daily Variety
21 Feb 50
p. 3.
Film Daily
21 Feb 50
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Feb 50
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
25 Feb 50
p. 205.
New York Times
16 Oct 1949.
---
New York Times
4 May 50
p. 32.
Variety
22 Feb 50
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Mitchell Leisen Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Stills
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus score
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup
Hair
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel I Married a Dead Man by William Irish (Philadelphia, 1948).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
With This Ring
I Married a Dead Man
They Call Me Patrice
The Lie
Release Date:
May 1950
Production Date:
21 May--25 July 1949
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
6 May 1950
Copyright Number:
LP383
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
97-98
Length(in feet):
8,757
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13950
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In the small town of Caulfield, Helen Ferguson reflects on her loving marriage and comfortable home, which have been disrupted by a murder. When she learns that the police are on their way to her house, Helen prays that her sins will not be visited on her son, and recalls the events that brought her to this point: Years before, in New York, Helen's boyfriend, Stephen Morley, cruelly dumps her because she is pregnant. Although she is destitute and homeless, Morley refuses to see her when she comes to his apartment, and merely slips a train ticket for San Francisco under his door. On the train to San Francisco, Patrice Harkness, who is also pregnant, and her husband Hugh take pity on Helen and offer her one of their seats. Patrice and Helen become friendly, and Helen learns that Patrice is on her way to meet her in-laws, who are planning to help support her and Hugh during her pregnancy. While they are in the washroom, Patrice gives Helen her wedding ring to hold. Just then, the train crashes, and Helen is knocked unconscious, while Patrice is killed. After her baby boy is delivered by caesarian section in the hospital, Helen awakens and discovers that she has been mistaken for Patrice, whose ring she still wears. Although Helen tries to tell the doctor the truth, he believes that she has become hysterical because of the news of Hugh's death and sedates her. As Patrice had no family, and the Harkness family is now caring for her, Helen decides to maintain the pretense for the well-being of her baby. After her full recovery, Helen ... +


In the small town of Caulfield, Helen Ferguson reflects on her loving marriage and comfortable home, which have been disrupted by a murder. When she learns that the police are on their way to her house, Helen prays that her sins will not be visited on her son, and recalls the events that brought her to this point: Years before, in New York, Helen's boyfriend, Stephen Morley, cruelly dumps her because she is pregnant. Although she is destitute and homeless, Morley refuses to see her when she comes to his apartment, and merely slips a train ticket for San Francisco under his door. On the train to San Francisco, Patrice Harkness, who is also pregnant, and her husband Hugh take pity on Helen and offer her one of their seats. Patrice and Helen become friendly, and Helen learns that Patrice is on her way to meet her in-laws, who are planning to help support her and Hugh during her pregnancy. While they are in the washroom, Patrice gives Helen her wedding ring to hold. Just then, the train crashes, and Helen is knocked unconscious, while Patrice is killed. After her baby boy is delivered by caesarian section in the hospital, Helen awakens and discovers that she has been mistaken for Patrice, whose ring she still wears. Although Helen tries to tell the doctor the truth, he believes that she has become hysterical because of the news of Hugh's death and sedates her. As Patrice had no family, and the Harkness family is now caring for her, Helen decides to maintain the pretense for the well-being of her baby. After her full recovery, Helen travels to Caulfield, where she moves in with Hugh's parents, and meets Hugh's brother Bill. Helen is tormented by her deception, but nevertheless allows her child to be baptized as Hugh and settles comfortably into the Harkness home. The Harknesses attribute Helen's lack of intimate knowledge about Hugh to the accident. Bill, however, becomes convinced that Helen is an impostor, but because he has fallen in love with her, he does not reveal his doubts. By Christmas, the Harknesses have changed their will to favor Helen and her son, although Helen vehemently asks them not to. Bill confesses his love to Helen, but she asks him for more time. One night at a country club dance, Helen is shocked to see Morley, who later demands money to keep quiet and threatens to take baby Hugh. Mrs. Harkness opens a bank account for Helen, and she uses the money to pay off Morley. Rather than leave town as he had promised, however, Morley then demands that Helen marry him, so that he will share her inheritance when the elderly Harknesses die. As the Harknesses dote on Helen, she buckles under the pressure. At the last minute, however, Helen refuses to proceed with the marriage, and Morley telephones the Harknesses. Mrs. Harkness, who has a weak heart, answers the phone and hears only Helen's voice in the background pleading with Morley. Helen reluctantly marries Morley, but Mrs. Harkness is alarmed and tells Bill about the mysterious phone call. When Helen gets home, she takes Mr. Harkness' gun and goes to Morley's office, intending to kill him. Although she finds that Morley is already dead, Helen fires a shot just to be sure. Bill, who has followed her there, believes that she has killed Morley, and helps her remove the evidence, then dumps Morley's body on top of a passing freight train. On the drive home, Bill admits that he always knew she was not the real Patrice, but is unswerving in his love for her, and Helen confesses she cares for him. When they get home, they find that Mrs. Harkness has died of a heart attack, and Helen blames herself. Three months later, Helen and Bill are married, and the Harkness family maid, Josie, brings Helen a note that she had been holding in the event of an emergency, in which Mrs. Harkness claims responsibility for Morley's murder. Although neither Bill nor Helen believe that she was the killer, Bill insists on giving the note to the police in order to clear his wife. When the police arrive, Helen admits the truth, but the police reveal that Morley's killer, his girl friend, was captured during a gambling raid and made a full confession. Bill and Helen are at last free of the shadow of guilt that oppressed them. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.