Friday, May 15, 2009
That Certain Woman (1937)
Behold, the absolute WORST Bette Davis movie I've ever seen (And as someone who has seen 36 or 37, I can't remember, Bette Davis movies, that's quite a statement). Seriously, this film has no idea what it wants to be and what story it wants to tell.
Bette Davis plays Mary Donnell, a secretary to attorney Lloyd Rogers (Ian Hunter) who is in love with her. Unfortunately for Mary, she has a secret. Though, it's not that secret because it's revealed at the beginning of the film. Mary used to be married to a bootlegger who was killed in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Since then, she's been a minor notorious figure in the news as a murdered mobster's wife so she changed her name and has taken her job as a secretary (which is where the film starts).
Mary is in love with the wealthy Jack Merrick Jr. (Henry Fonda) and they elope. However, since Mary is "common", Jack's father shows up and forces his pussy of a son to annul the marriage. Unfortunately, Mary is pregnant with his child, but decides to keep the baby and wait for him to return.
Suddenly, Mary's boss is sick and comes over to her house and dies, it's all quite sudden and the death puts Mary back into the spotlight as a notorious figure. Jack tracks her down, bringing his sickly wife in tow and proclaims that he will leave her for Mary, but Mary says no. Now knowing that Jack has a son, Jack's father tried to have marry declared an unfit mother and take the child from her. Since she knows that she cannot win, she gives the child up.
The last 5 minutes of this movie are so bizarre, and so odd that my head almost imploded. So, as Mary gives up the child, she tearfully tells her best friend to tell that child that she never existed, that he didn't have a mother. So, I feel sad, knowing that Mary is about to kill herself, because that's what the scene is suggesting.
WELL I WAS WRONG.
Mary instead takes off to some sort of exotic locale, wearing one of those huge hats that they wear in old movies and living it up, only to be told that Jack's wife had died and he wants her back. HAPPY ENDING.
Really, this movie is like three different Bette Davis films frankensteined together to form this cinematic abortion. Is it about her boss' unrequited love for her or her having to deal with being a single mother, or about her being famous, or about trying to get back with Jack? It can't seem to decide so it just throws them all together with glue and a prayer. Storylines pop up only to disappear minutes later and so on and so forth, it just feels so sloppy.
You don't care about any of the relationships because Mary's boss is too creepy and won't leave his wife, and Jack is just a wimp who left the woman he really loves because Daddy said too.
Bette Davis is watchable (as she always is) and interesting to watch, but she's surrounded by garbage, like a blind kid dancing in a burning house. It's kinda funny, but also kinda sad because you know the blind kid gets torched.
Don't watch this movie.