13 July 2002 | bmacv
Marie Windsor's "a witch...whichever way it's spelled"
As mysteries go, No Man's Woman runs in the league of those populous puzzles that fueled so many old Perry Mason episodes: a lot of suspects, one of whom will be fingered. But the movie preserves a starring performance by Marie Windsor, one of the all-time great broads of post-war poverty-row movies. She leads in more of them than one might think, most of them obscure (if not vanished) westerns, sci-fi cheapies, and crime programmers. But, top billing or not, we get to see less of Windsor in No Man's Woman that we might like too many people want her dead.
Among them: her industrialist husband (John Archer) whom she won't divorce unless he forks over a ruinous settlement; his girlfriend (Jil Jarmyn), whose pleas Windsor coldly rebuffs; Windsor's art critic paramour/business partner (Patric Knowles), who writes puff-pieces for her gallery and gets fired for conflict of interest (today they'd call it `synergy'); her loyal young assistant (Nancy Gates), whose fiancé she blithely tries to steal; and the fiancé (Richard Crane), onto whose boat she invites herself in order to seduce then blackmail him.
Windsor, as one exchange between characters goes, is `a witch...whichever way it's spelled.' When her wicked-woman machinations have reached the boil, and just about everyone has indiscreetly remarked how they'd like to see her dead, a 3-a.m. intruder into her studio grants their wishes. And so the search for the murderer is on....
Much like the roles Joan Crawford at this juncture in her career was playing in A-productions, Windsor's character is that of an honey-voiced schemer hiding her self-interest beneath a facade of piss-elegance with every petty victory, the huge orbs of her eyes flash with satisfaction. She was more memorable in The Narrow Margin and The Killing (better movies), but what she delivers makes one wonder why she never broke out of the B-movie ghetto.