The Family Secret (1951 film)

The Family Secret is a 1951 American drama film noir directed by Henry Levin and starring John Derek, Lee J. Cobb and Jody Lawrence[1].

The Family Secret
Theatrical release poster
Directed byHenry Levin
Produced byRobert Lord
Screenplay byFrancis Cockrell
Andrew Solt
Story byMarie Baumer
James Cavanagh
StarringJohn Derek
Lee J. Cobb
Jody Lawrance
Music byGeorge Duning
CinematographyBurnett Guffey
Edited byAl Clark
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • October 24, 1951 (1951-10-24)
Running time
85 minutes
CountryUnited States


Law student David Clark kills best friend Art Bradley in self-defense after an argument. He flees, but later confesses to his father, Howard, a lawyer. The next morning, Howard expects his son to explain what happened to district attorney Redman, but instead David merely asks the DA if he can be of any help after another man, Joe Elsner, is arrested. Elsner is a bookie to whom the dead man owed a debt.

Marie Elsner comes to Howard Clark, asking that he represent her husband in court. David sits by his father's and the defendant's side at the trial. He has always been irresponsible, which is why secretary Lee Pearson keeps resisting David's romantic attentions, even though she is attracted to him. Howard Clark proves a key eyewitness to be a convicted perjurer. It looks like Elsner might be found innocent, but the stress causes him to have a fatal heart attack. David finally realizes he must turn himself in and promises to Lee he will lead a better life.



  • Park, William (2011), "Appendix A:Within the Genre", What is Film Noir?, Bucknell University Press, ISBN 978-1-6114-8363-5
  1. Park (2011), p. 147-148

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