Lightning Strikes Twice (1951)

Lightning Strikes Twice (1951)  Front Cover DVD

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Lightning Strikes Twice (1951)  Back Cover DVD

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Once a rancher, Richard Trevelyan (Richard Todd) is now on a Texas prison's death row. But he wins a new trial, then a complete acquittal when a lone juror holds out.

Actress Shelley Carnes (Ruth Roman) is on her way to a Texas dude ranch for a rest. Along the way, she meets ranchers J.D. (Frank Conroy) and Myra Nolan (Kathryn Givney) and ends up borrowing their car. Lost in a storm, she encounters Trevelyan by chance. It turns out he knows J.D. and Myra.

The dude ranch is closed when Shelley gets there. Liza McStringer (Mercedes McCambridge), who runs it with a younger brother nicknamed String (Darryl Hickman), explains that she was the juror who let Trevelyan go free. And now she's being shunned by neighbors and friends.

Shelley bonds with the troubled String, so she is invited to stay a while. She learns that Loraine, the late wife of Trevelyan and murder victim, was a rather wicked woman, loathed by many. There is reason to believe Loraine once had an affair with J.D.

Returning the car, Shelley spends a night with the Nolans and is introduced to Harvey Turner (Zachary Scott), a neighbor who is immediately attracted to her. Harvey, too, speaks ill of the late Loraine and describes himself as lucky to have escaped her clutches.

Shelley again meets Trevelyan and the two cannot resist each other. They marry, but on their wedding day Shelley discovers something that makes her think Trevelyan murdered Loraine after all. She pulls a gun on him and flees. It turns out, however, that Liza, jealous and wanting Trevelyan, was the one who murdered Loraine. Now she nearly does likewise to Shelley, but Trevelyan and the police rescue her. Liza and String flee in their car, but take a fatal plunge over a cliff; Shelley and Trevelyan embrace at the scene and drive off to live happily ever after.


Ruth Roman as Shelley Carnes
Richard Todd as Richard Trevelyan
Mercedes McCambridge as Liza McStringer
Zachary Scott as Harvey Turner
Frank Conroy as J. D. Nolan
Kathryn Givney as Myra Nolan
Rhys Williams as Father Paul
Darryl Hickman as String
Nacho Galindo as Pedro
Joaquin Garay as Johnny López
Franklin Parker as Guard

In February 2020, the film was shown at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival, as part of a retrospective dedicated to director King Vidor's career.

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