This Was a Woman
Trade ad, Kinematograph Weekly, 1948
Directed byTim Whelan
Written byVal Valentine (adapted from the film treatment by Joan Morgan)
Based onplay This Was a Woman by Joan Morgan
Produced byMarcel Hellman
Edited byEdward B. Jarvis
Music byMischa Spoliansky
Excelsior Films
Distributed byTwentieth Century Fox
Release dates
  • 21 June 1948 (1948-06-21) (United Kingdom)
  • 4 January 1949 (1949-01-04) (United States)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

This Was a Woman is a 1948 British crime film directed by Tim Whelan and starring Sonia Dresdel, Walter Fitzgerald and Emrys Jones.[1] It was made at the Riverside Studios with sets designed by the art directors Ivan King and Andrew Mazzei.[2] Based on a successful play by former film actress Joan Morgan,[3] its plot concerns an outwardly respectable family dominated by a murderous matriarch.[4]


Sylvia Russell is a woman who likes to get her own way. With a huge ambition to exercise power, she has had to be content with manipulating and demoralising her sweet natured husband and controlling the lives of her children, all while presenting the appearance of a devoted wife and mother.

When her daughter Fenella announces that she is going to marry Val, Sylvia is furious at this sign of independence and while pretending to welcome Val into the family, does everything she can to undermine the marriage, eventually splitting the couple up.

Her son, although not really understanding why, chooses never to bring his girlfriend to the house; is he beginning to comprehend his mother's true character?

When Austin, her husband's old friend, returns to England after many successful years abroad with the same company, Sylvia sees a chance to further her ambitions. She feels sure that she can achieve the power she craves with the right person at her side. And then her husband falls ill...



  1. ^ Keaney p.200
  2. ^ "This Was a Woman (1948)". Archived from the original on 15 February 2020.
  3. ^ "Joan Morgan". Archived from the original on 7 May 2022.
  4. ^ "This Was a Woman (1949) - Tim Whelan, Sr. - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related - AllMovie". AllMovie.