NO MAN’S WOMAN. Republic Pictures, 1955. Marie Windsor, John Archer, Patric Knowles, Nancy Gate, Jil Jarmyn, Richard Crane, Fern Hall, Louis Jean Heydt, Percy Helton. Screenplay by John K. Butler, based on a story by Don Martin. Director: Franklin Adreon.

   Marie Windsor’s movie-making career was perhaps never destined to climb into the A-film category, but to me and many people I know, she was the Queen of the B’s, no doubt about it. She has top billing in this one, and she deserved it, even though she’s the kind of witch (“no matter how you spell it”) who’s destined to be killed off buy someone she’s crossed, and badly, soon after the halfway point.

   As Carolyn Grant, she’s the wife, for example, of a man (Suspect #1) who’s no longer in love with her, and in fact they live apart, and who would like to have a divorce to marry someone else (Suspect #2). He can’t meet her demands, however: alimony plus a six-figure additional payout. The husband’s father (Suspect #3) offers to meet her demands, but husband refuses to use his money that way.

   Carolyn meanwhile has her eye on the fiancĂ© (Suspect #4) of the girl (Suspect #5) who works for her in her art shop. After insinuating her way into breaking up the engagement, add two more people would would be happy to see her dead.

   And that’s not all. Her lover of sorts is a local art critic/newspaper columnist [Suspect #6] who’s been plugging her art shop, to their mutual advantage, until he’s found out and fired. At which point Carolyn summarily boots him out of her life, laughing happily as she does so.

   All of which makes the first half of the movie a lot of fun to watch and await the inevitable. On the other hand, after Carolyn’s death, all of the built up tension is gone, and the movie turns into a straightforward murder mystery. It’s not a bad one as far as murder mystery movies go, and in fat it’s actually a very good one. The problem is, without Marie Windsor’s memorably brassy man-stealing performance to continue watching, anything that follows would have to have been, in comparison, a ten-story letdown.