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Harrison's Reports (1937) - The Woman Alone




"The Woman Alone" with Sylvia Sidney and Oscar Homolka

(Gaumont-British, January 1 ; time, 74½ min.)

A thrilling melodrama ; it should appeal particularly to intelligent audiences. The one drawback, as far as the masses are concerned, is the slow-paced action. Otherwise, the story is extremely interesting and holds one in tense suspense throughout. Alfred Hitchcock, who will be remembered for his direction of "39 Steps" and "Secret Agent," again shows his skill in building up a situation to a tense climax. The scenes that show young Desmond Tester walking through the London streets, unaware that he was carrying a bomb that had been set to explode at a certain time, are directed expertly; nothing with so much power has been seen in a long time. Another equally dramatic situation is that in which Sylvia Sidney, heartbroken at her brother's death, which was caused by her husband (Oscar Homolka), is shown looking at a bread knife ; one understands that her desire is to kill her husband. The romantic interest is of slight importance:—

Miss Sidney and Homolka operate a small motion picture theatre in London. She is grateful to Homolka, whom she does not love, for being kind to Desmond, her young brother, who lives with them. She is unaware of the fact that her husband had been working with foreign agents and had been committing acts of sabotage on government property. John Loder, a Scotland Yard agent, posing as a clerk in a fruit store adjoining the theatre, was watching Homolka's actions. Homolka, realizing that he was watched, sends Desmond to deliver a bomb-containing package to a certain crowded spot. Desmond is delayed because of a parade and boards a bus ; the bomb explodes, blowing up the bus, and killing Desmond and the other passengers. Homolka tells Miss Sidney that he is sorry but this does not console her. In an attempt to take away a bread knife she was holding, knowing that her intention was to kill him, Homolka is stabbed and dies. Miss Sidney confesses to Loder and he pleads with her not to say anything. Homolka's co-worker, maker of the bomb, resisting arrest, blows up the theatre ; the evidence of how Homolka had died is, therefore, covered up. Miss Sidney accepts Loder's sympathy and love.

The plot was adapted from a story by Joseph Conrad. Charles Bennett wrote the screen play. In the cast are Joyce Barbour, William Dewhurst, and others.

It may be a little strong for children. Good for adults. Class B.