THREE SECRETS, 1950. A nifty melodrama, one of Robert Wise’s early films. A five-year-old boy is the sole survivor of a devastating plane crash in the mountains of California. When the newspapers reveal the boy was adopted and that the crash occurred on his birthday, three women begin to ponder if it's the son each gave up for adoption.
As the three await news of his rescue at a mountain cabin, they recall incidents from five years earlier and why they were forced to give up their son. The women are top-billed Eleanor Parker, rather pallid here; Patricia Neal as incisive as ever, and Ruth Roman who makes the most impression. It is nicely worked out and keeps one involved. The men pale by comparison: Frank Lovejoy, Arthur Franz, Leif Erickson, Ted de Corsia.
Wavering between believing and not believing her story, John decides to trust her and go along with her as far as the story plays itself out, all the while the two being chased by various people.
This plays marvellously with non-stop action ... it may even have inspired the look of PSYCHO ? - I was reminded of the scenes with Janet Leigh in the car and evading the policeman, while watching similar scenes here as we travel the highways and those cheap motels. Ruth Roman and Sterling Hayden are just right, and the plot teases until the end, as directed by Henry S. Kesler.
In 1903 Kenya, tough colonist John Gale is leading a safari to bring in escaped murderer Abel McCracken, who is stirring up the Nukumbi tribe and endangering Gale's holdings. En route, he picks up four survivors of Nukumbi raids: hunter Dan Harder, former teacher Peggy, and two kids. But Dan has hidden motives for coming along; and the Nukumbi are lying in wait.
We like Vidal - from ATTILA in '54, and Clement's LES MAUDITS, as well as those films with Brigitte Bardot and Romy Schneider (Vidal label). What a contrast with Robert Hossein, that other tough French guy. Vidal died aged 40 in 1959 just as Delon and Belmondo were hitting their stride - (so also did Gerard Philipe, also dying in 1959). Hossein on the other hand, is stll here in his 80s and still working unitl recently after a long career. Delon and Belmondo and Trintignant may have been the main French idols, but Maurice Ronet, Jean Sorel and Robert Hossein had long careers too, in mainly action movies - like Franco Nero, Raf Vallone, Renato Salvatori, Vittoria Gassman in Italy. Isa Miranda,below.
The other sister in the wheelchair is also becoming dangerously obsessed with Robert, but he begins to suspect she is not disabled at all, but cannot prove it. How is all this going to end? Very satisfyingly is all I can say. We liked some other Hossein thrillers (as per my previous B-movie post on French thrillers), like LE MONT CHARGE, and THE WICKED GO TO HELL, which featured Vidal and Vlady. This one is just as good if not better. IMDb describes it as a "Panting psychological thriller", ably directed by Hossein.
Local gangland gets involved and there is a detour to a nightclub with some exotic black dancers (as in LA NOTTE and other chic nightclub scenes of the time) where Hossein gets off with a blonde (also Pisier). Then the shoot-out and all is revealed at the end. Its a film of great images and creates a great mood of fatalism, again also directed by Hossein.
Soon: Hossein with Sophia Loren in MADAME, that rarity from 1961 ... and another look at Dassin's classic RIFIFI with Hossein and a great cast; and another steaming helping of Trash classics.