Fortune Is a Woman

Fortune Is a Woman is a 1957 British film noir crime film directed by Sidney Gilliat and starring Jack Hawkins, Arlene Dahl, Dennis Price and Greta Gynt. Its plot concerns an attempted insurance fraud that goes badly wrong.[1] In the United States, it was released as She Played With Fire.[2] The film is based on Winston Graham's novel Fortune Is a Woman (1953).[3]

Fortune Is a Woman
Directed bySidney Gilliat
Produced bySidney Gilliat
Frank Launder
Written bySidney Gilliat
Frank Launder
Val Valentine (adapted by)
Based onnovel Fortune Is a Woman by Winston Graham
StarringJack Hawkins
Arlene Dahl
Dennis Price
Music byWilliam Alwyn
CinematographyGerald Gibbs
Edited byGeoffrey Foot
Individual Films
John Harvel Productions Ltd.
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • 15 April 1957 (1957-04-15) (United Kingdom)
  • 8 July 1958 (1958-07-08) (United States)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom


London insurance investigator Oliver Branwell goes to Louis Manor to probe a recent fire. Tracey Moreton lives there with his wife Sarah and his mother. He introduces Branwell to them and to his neighbor and cousin, Clive, and shows him a valuable painting badly damaged in the blaze. Moreton isn't aware that Sarah and Branwell were once romantically involved.

The insurance company pays out on the damage and the painting. Months later, on another case, Branwell meets a woman, Vere Litchen, who has a painting that is identical to the one that was ruined. Branwell becomes suspicious that an insurance fraud took place. The next time he and Sarah speak, she asks questions about the best way to start a fire.

When Branwell sneaks into the manor to check whether the damaged painting is a copy, he finds Moreton's dead body and a fire that eventually engulfs the house. Sarah is beneficiary of her husband's insurance policy but Branwell remains suspicious of her involvement.

Vere's rich fiance, Croft, who gave her the painting, is shown a photo of Sarah and denies she was the woman who sold it to him. A relieved Branwell proposes to Sarah and they leave on a honeymoon. Now the police begin to consider him a suspect.

Blackmailed by a shadowy figure, Branwell and Sarah follow him and discover that Clive was the scheme's mastermind, and that the dead man's mother, Mrs. Moreton, had accidentally caused her son's death, believing him to be in the act of setting the second fire.



  1. Fortune Is a Woman. BFI Film Forever. 1957.
  2. She Played With Fire. IMDb. 1957.
  3. Graham, Winston (1953). Fortune Is a Woman. DOUBLEDAY & COMPANY. ASIN B000QBA4GS.

Fortune Is a Woman on IMDb

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