It takes a great cast, director, crew and screenplay to turn a hoary story idea like this: a woman impersonating another (dead) woman, becoming part of the dead woman's family, and then getting visited by her dark and shady past - and turn it into something close to a masterpiece. Fortunately, director and uncredited contributor to the screenplay Mitchell Leisen, screenwriters Sally Benson and Catherine Turney (adapting a Cornell Woolrich novel), and principal cast Barbara Stanwyck, John Lund, Phyllis Thaxter, Jane Cowl and Lyle Bettger are around to perform the miracle, and make this into a seminal woman-in-danger noir.
As the film begins, the pregnant Stanwyck character is thrown over by scumbag boyfriend Bettger, and given a trainride out of town. On the train she meets a sympathetic couple, also about to have a child, and the woman lets her try on her wedding ring while they are in the ladies' room. You know what's going to happen now don't you? Well, if you can't guess I won't spoil it. In any case, Stanwyck is soon mistakenly adopted into a new family with her new baby, but it's a rich family, and somehow slimy Bettger finds out... Stanwyck is just marvellous in a role that calls for a lot of bewilderment and uncertainty, and only a gradual show of the kind of strength that the actress demonstrated time and again; Lund is excellent as the sympathetic brother-in-law who wants to be more, and Bettger, wow, what a great creep. There's a bit of great location work at a train station which combines strikingly well with the Paramount sets used for the rest of it, and a lovely Olde New England stuffiness is beautifully communicated to contrast with the more modern and "liberated" Stanwyck character.
The Olive DVD is pretty solid looking except for a bad patch about ten minutes before the end that's a bit grainy and hissy; no extras at all, not even a trailer. So not the greatest noir or Stanwyck release ever in terms of disc quality, but is there likely to be any kind of upgrade? I wouldn't count on it, and the film is great enough that it's worth getting regardless.