22 August 2002 | bmacv
Not-bad programmer, a `jep' based (as always) on the old adage `Marry in haste...'
Honeymooning after a whirlwind courtship, newlyweds Andrea King and Helmut Dantine cross the palm of a Gypsy fortune-teller with silver to have their futures read. The crone's face collapses like an ill-baked souffle when she gazes on Dantine's life-lines. `I haf nut'ing to tell you,' she stammers, then slithers off into the night.
Next day at the beach, a boulder the size of an asteroid rolls down a hill, almost squashing Dantine the first of many such `accidents' which befall him. Her groom, King decides, has enemies. Back in San Francisco, King settles into his gloomy old Nob Hill mansion, inhabited too by his widowed sister and his crippled nephew, who welcome her coldly. Another surprise is a sickly young son by a previous marriage, of whom (and of which) King knew nothing.
Dantine, it turns out, is a quack doctor whose diet regiments cause his patients to drop like flies. His son, on the other hand, is heir to a fortune, and his regimen of nothing but orange juice begins to look to King like a plot to kill him....
Shadow of a Woman (meaningless title, by the way) is nothing more than a watchable programmer. Both principals were European-born, Dantine in Vienna (retaining a heavy accent), King in Paris (accent-free, though her English is wooden). The movie accepts and reproduces the conventions of the `jep' with few, if any, new twists: Dantine is a controlling husband who decides everything for his wife (a role he would reprise the next year in Whispering City), including how she feels `You're tired;' `You're hysterical.' King, however, shows more spunk, and earlier on, than most of the swooning wives this kind of melodrama requires. If you can swallow its conventions, Shadow of a Woman is not a bad hour and a quarter sort of a dress rehearsal for The House on Telegraph Hill five years later, a better movie that, especially in its setting, resembles it.