Beware My Lovely: Harry Horner’s Crime Noir, Starring Ida Lupino and Robert Ryan

Harry Horner directed Beware, My Lovely, a modest, contrived crime noir, starring Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan and Taylor Holmes.

The play on which the film is based, The Man, was originally a short story by Mel Dinelli. Dinelli adapted the story for the stage, debuting on Broadway in January 1950 starring Dorothy Gish (lilian’s sister)..

Set in 1918 in a small town. the tale centers on a widow, Mrs. Helen Gordon (Lupino), who impulsively hires a handyman, Howard Wilton, (Ryan) to look after her house.

At first, he shows sensitivity and concern to do a good job, asking her whether she is satisfied with him.

Howard is told that no real man would do his job, washing the floor, a typically feminine work, which hurts him.

Helen soon learns that Howard is a dangerous schizophrenic, and suggests that he goes “home,” only to learn that he has no home.

She tries to call for help, then lies about expecting a guest back in her home, which only makes Howard more insecure and paranoid.

The by-the-book “woman in peril” scenario follows all the expected moves, like he smashing the phone, she trying to smash the window and escape.

By the time she comes to realize how dangerous he is, she is unable to leave her house and escape from him.

With few exterior shots of children outside Helen’s home, the action is all interior.  When the children burst into the house, Howard tells them that Helen is ill.

Confined to one set, Beware My Lovely reinforces the notion that it’s still a play, albeit one that offers strong parts for two good actors, on the level of Lupino and Ryan.

The movie was shot in 1951 for the production company of then the husband-and-wife team, Collier Young and Ida Lupino.

Howard Hughes, head of RKO, withheld the film from release for a year, and Ryan later said that Hughes tried to “bury” the film because Ryan was active in left-wing politics.

In the same year, Lupino and Ryan co-starred in a better film noir, On Dangerous Ground, directed by Nicholas Ray and produced by John Houseman. (The story was used in a 1960 episode of the TV anthology Startime, with Audie Murphy and Thelma Ritter).


The story was also featured on the CBS radio show Suspense as “To Find Help” on January 18, 1945 with Frank Sinatra as Howard and Agnes Moorehead as Mrs. Gillis (Mrs. Gordon in the film).

It was dramatized again on Suspense, with Gene Kelly and Ethel Barrymore on January 6, 1949.


Running time: 77 minutes

Release date: August 29, 1952