Beware, My Lovely (1952)

“Little did she dream that the moment a stranger came to her house looking for work, terror would enter her life …” Robert Ryan is truly terrifying in this tense, claustrophobic film noir as deranged drifter “Howard Wilton,” who traps widow “Helen Gordon” (Ida Lupino) in her own house after she unwittingly hires him as a handyman. Within minutes, the guy proves to be batshit crazy and it quickly becomes a battle of wits as the crafty Helen fights for her survival. Most of the movie concentrates on the mental and physical battle between Howard and Helen but there are equally tense scenes involving Helen’s obnoxious niece “Ruth” (Barbara Whiting) as she tries to bait Howard (you can just feel his rage bubbling to the surface) and the scene where the kids show up with the presents, as well as the arrival of the grocery boy. Directed by Harry Horner, Beware, My Lovely was based on a 1950 play by Mel Dinelli (The Spiral Staircase) called The Man and made by The Filmakers, Lupino’s own production company. The tagline screamed, “Trapped by a man beyond control!” Also in 1952, Lupino and Ryan starred in another film noir, On Dangerous Ground, which was directed by Nicholas Ray.

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