Secret Fury, The (1950): Mel Ferrer’s Thriller Film Noir, Starring Claudette Colbert and Robert Ryan

One of Claudette Colbert’s worst films, in an otherwise quite a brilliant career, The Secret Fury is a lurid psychological noir thriller, poorly directed by Mel Ferrer, co-starring Robert Ryan.

The Secret Fury

Theatrical release poster

Grade C- (* out of *****)

The wealthy classical pianist Ellen (Colbert) is accused of already being married when she attempts to take her vows; the wedding guests are shocked. They temporarily call off the wedding and the couple tries to investigate why someone would make such charge.

With the help of a lawyer and the district attorney, the couple tracks down the justice of the peace that signed her wedding papers, but even he recognizes her as the woman he had married.

Frustrated, the couple visits the man to whom Ellen is accused of being married. In a back room a gunshot fires and Ellen is accused of killing the man. The courtroom sequence is downright banal.

But the plotting gets even more preposterous, when Ellen breaks down after the lengthy trial, during which she is found not guilty due to insanity, and is sent to mental institution.

Meanwhile, her fiance David, still believing in her innocence, finds clues that might help set her free.

It would be unfair to blame the actors (they’ve got to eat, too), but the tale is so silly that it’s a waste of time for both talent and viewers.

Mel Ferrer has a very poor record as a filmmaker, even when working with his then wife, Audrey Hepburn, in “Green Mansions” (1959).

Claudette Colbert as Ellen R. Ewing
Robert Ryan as David McLean
Jane Cowl as Aunt Clara Ewing
Paul Kelly as District Attorney Eric Lowell
Philip Ober as Gregory Kent
Elisabeth Risdon as Dr. Twining
Doris Dudley as Pearl Collins
Dave Barbour as Lucian Randall
Vivian Vance as Leah, the hotel maid
José Ferrer as José


Directed by Mel Ferrer
Produced by Jack H. Skirball, Bruce Manning
Screenplay by Lionel Houser, story by Jack Leonard and James O’Hanlon
Music by Roy Webb
Cinematography Leo Tover
Edited by Harry Marker

Production company: Loring Theatre Corporation

Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures

Release date: May 27, 1950

Running time: 85 minutes