"Who are you?" "What do you want?" "Where did you come from?" Most people getting these anonymous notes in the mail would either throw them away or give them to the police. Things are more difficult for Patricia Meyrand, a young widow with a new baby who is living with the family of her dead husband, a family she had not met before the train crash which took his life. Patricia Meyrand is really Helene George (Nathalie Baye). She was eight months pregnant when her heel of a husband threw her out. She bought a train ticket to Bordeaux for no reason except to get away. Just before that train crash she was befriended by Patricia Meyrand, also eight months pregnant, who was traveling with her husband to meet the Meyrand family. When Helene woke up in hospital, she had given birth...and everyone has assumed she was Patricia, and that her husband and "Helen" had been killed. At first she resists and tries to leave, but then she realizes she has no money, no future and a baby to care for. When the Meyrand family accepts her as their son's widow, she thinks she can start a new life.
The Meyrands are wealthy wine makers, with groves of vineyards and a fine château. Mrs. Meyrand is, perhaps, distant at first, but we soon learn she is very ill with little time left to live. Mr. Meyrand is gracious and solicitous. And their remaining son, Pierre (Francis Huster) seems friendly enough. As the weeks pass, however, it is apparent to them that this Patricia amongst the Meyrands seems to have almost no recollection of her own life, or how she met her husband...and this seems strange, especially to Mrs. Meyrand. What may seem stranger still is the evident feelings Pierre is beginning to show toward Patricia. Lust or love? And, of course, there is the question of the ownership of the château and vineyards. One-third is now Patricia's.
We would be inattentive movie goers if, by now, we hadn't realized that the heel of a husband who threw Helen out and whom we haven't seen since is played by the well-known actor Richard Bohringer who received third billing. For the first two-thirds of I Married a Dead Man, we have been watching an engrossing story of a young woman, down on her luck who made some bad choices, but who, in choosing to be Patricia Meyrand, may have made a good choice. She wasn't honest, but she has done no real harm. When her low-life husband appears, however, he is uninterested in her or their baby, only in the money she can give him if he keeps her secret. Now the possibility of murder begins to raise it's bloody eyes. But so does the extent of acceptance and love which Patricia/Helene has given to and received from the Meyrands.
The movie is based on the novel, I Married a Dead Man, by Cornell Woolrich writing as William Irish. Woolrich was a master of that great and unique genre, American pulp crime fiction. So is there a murder? Are you kidding? At least with this movie justice is done, although perhaps not entirely legally. For a Cornell Woolrich story, we wind up with a sunny and satisfying conclusion, even with a body that had to be disposed of.