This 1955 film tells the story of a murder.
When we first meet Carolyn Elleson Grant (Marie Windsor), she refuses to give her husband, Harlow Grant (John Archer) a divorce, despite the fact that they’ve been separated for several years and Harlow now wants to marry Louise Nelson (Nancy Gates) and Carolyn is now involved with an art critic named Wayne Vincent (Patrick Knowles). Carolyn only married Harlow for his money and, while she has other rich lovers, she just enjoys making Harlow’s life as difficult as possible. It’s hard to blame her because Harlow is kind of whiny.
However, Carolyn has grown bored with Wayne Vincent and she’s now decided that she would rather get involved with Dick Sawyer (Richard Crane), who is rich and owns a boat. However, Dick is engaged to Carolyn’s personal assistant, Betty (Jill Jarmyn). Carolyn thinks it would be perfectly amusing to not only seduce Dick but to also destroy Betty’s happiness.
As one character put it, Carolyn is “a witch!”
(Someone then adds that Carolyn is a word that “rhymes” with witch. They don’t actually say the word because this film was made in 1955 but still….)
With Carolyn casually trying to destroy everyone’s lives and happiness, is it really a shock when some unseen person shows up at her art studio late at night and shoots her?
With Carolyn dead, it falls to Detectives Colton (Louis Jean Heydt) and Wells (John Gallaudet) to figure out the identity of the murder. They immediately suspect that it had to have been Harlow Grant. Not only does he have the motive and the opportunity but his name is Harlow Grant and I defy you to find anyone named Harlow Grant who hasn’t subsequently turned out to be involved in something shady. Harlow, however, insists that he’s innocent and the investigation is about to get a lot more complicated….
Well, okay, maybe not a lot more complicated. To be honest, it’s really not that difficult to figure out who the murderer actually is No Man’s Woman but that’s okay. The investigation itself only takes the last third of this 70-minute film. No Man’s Woman is a like a low-budget version of Gosford Park. The murder is less important than all of the drama surrounding it.
And make no mistake, there’s a lot of drama! This is a fun movie, specifically because Carolyn is such a wonderfully evil character and Marie Windsor has so much fun playing her. Carolyn doesn’t really have any deep motivation for why she does the terrible things that she does. She just does them because she can and she believes that she can get away with it. A good deal of the film’s entertainment comes from just seeing how bad Carolyn can be. In fact, you’re a bit disappointed when she’s murdered because Carolyn is the most enjoyable character in the movie. She’s someone who is literally willing to do and say anything and she makes an apologies for her actions. You wouldn’t necessarily want to work with her but she’s fun to watch.
The rest of the cast is adequate. John Archer and Nancy Gates are a bit on the dull side as the “good” characters but I liked the performances of the other suspects. Richard Crane and Jill Jarmyn, in particular, are memorable as Dick and Betty. I loved how going out on someone’s boat was apparently the height of decadence in 1955.
No Man’s Woman is an entertaining mix of noir and soap opera. Find it on Prime!