Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

THE SECOND FACE

Phyllis (Ella Raines) before her makeover.
THE SECOND FACE (1950). Director: Jack Bernhard.

Phyllis (Ella Raines) is a plain but lovely woman who works for a bitter man, Paul (Bruce Bennett), whose pretty wife ran out on him. He sends Phyllis to Los Angeles to stay with a friend, Claire (Rita Johnson of Sleep, My Love), who tries to get her a job with a fashion house as a designer, but since she's required to do some selling on the floor first, she isn't hired due to her appearance. She goes to work for Claire's fiance, Allan (Roy Roberts of The Gale Storm Show), who is fooling around with a client's pretty daughter, and is "romanced" by the slimy Jerry (John Sutton of The Invisible Man Returns), who only wants to use her designs for himself. Phyllis is racing to prevent a possible murder when her car smashes into a truck -- now there's a chance that surgery can make her as attractive as she's always dreamed ... Most of the male characters in The Second Face are pretty loathsome. One guy breaks off with his fiancee by sending a telegram to another person, expecting her to relay the bad news to the rejected woman. An aging businessman (Pierre Watkin) is unspeakably blunt and cruel to Phyllis just to make a point about advertising. Meanwhile no one makes the point that Phyllis' sweet demeanor and feminine, charming aura would certainly make her appealing to some men, and none of her lady friends suggest make up or a new hairdo. In any case, Raines' performance is excellent, and the supporting players are adept enough. Eugene Vale's screenplay is often psychologically astute. Raines also made a good impression in The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry but was less effective in Impact. Kathleen Freeman has a nice bit at the end as a homely-but-happy married lady whose husband likes her just the way she is.

Verdict: An appealing Raines helps put this over. ***.

2 comments:

J. Bruce Fox said...

A movie which illustrates the character of a lovely woman is as true and noble as her less blessed female companions. A strong beleivable performance by the stunnning Ms. Raines.

William said...

Yes, this is a nice picture and Raines is excellent. Thanks for your comment!