The Daily Pulse:

Knoxville Noir: Forgotten classic "Woman in Hiding" is now available on DVD

Woman in Hiding is a 1950 film-noir mystery starring Ida Lupino and Howard Duff. It presents an unusual yarn you haven't heard before, and is interesting for a couple of reasons, one because it opens with a dead narrator, a few months before the same device was used in the immortal Sunset Boulevard; because it's the first of several pairings of Ida Lupino and Howard Duff, who married soon after shooting it; and because about a third of the movie is set in Knoxville.  

It's the only depiction of Knoxville in a true film noir that we know of. The Knoxville settings, which include a crowded hotel, a train station, a lake, and a restaurant, aren't implausible except for the appearance of a "two-olive martini" served right out in the open. Anything stronger than beer served in a glass was illegal here, except in private clubs, until 1972. The movie may be the all-time high point in the career of thespian Joe Besser. He's known as one of the lesser Curly replacements in the Three Stooges, but here he's pretty funny as a drunken Knoxville conventioneer with some bongo drums. And watch closely, because I think there's a brief uncredited role by a middleaged William Demarest, about 15 years before he became better known as Uncle Charley in My Three Sons. He's another drunk conventioneer, trying to ride a bicycle into an elevator.

Librarian Dale Watermulder first made me aware of the movie, which was known only to folks who caught it on rare cable showings.

But now, as other librarians have let me know, it's out on a TCM collection called "Women in Danger: 1950s Thrillers."  Find it here

The subtitle's a little surprising, if not misleading. Woman in Hiding was shot in the late '40s, and when I wrote about the movie about 12 years ago, my information was that it was a 1949 release. That was before I was handy with IMDB, which indicates it came out in early 1950. Another detail you'll learn on IMDB is that it's known in France as L'Araignee. Which means, oddly, "the Spider." I don't remember a literal arachnid in the movie; it may be a reference to the web of deceit. 


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