July 20, 2014

Marked Woman

A good example of the kinds of fun roles actresses got to play in the 1930s: Bette Davis is a hostess at a popular nightclub that's just been taken over by a mobster named Johnny Vanning (played by Eduardo Ciannelli). She lives with four other women who work at the nightclub, and there's an early shot of them walking home from work in their fancy cheap coats. They're tough and they've weathered a lot of storms. Something about their camaraderie makes Marked Woman memorable, even though the film isn't all that great. The uninspired plot involves Humphrey Bogart as an assistant district attorney trying to pin Vanning to several unsolved murders. The courtroom scenes are rather pedestrian. But that Bette Davis fire is certainly here. She's so good, even when her performance is overwrought and over-the-top, that you can't take your eyes off her. (When Vanning smacks her, she looks back at him with contempt, never even flinching.) Davis and the other girls are a formidable team of tough-as-nails broads (and I use the term affectionately). They're played by Lola Lane, Isabel Jewell, Mayo Methot, and Rosalind Marquis. With Jane Bryan and Allen Jenkins. Directed by Lloyd Bacon. 1937.

No comments: