Friday, June 12, 2009

Marked Woman (1937)

Bette Davis is a hooker is sets out to destroy the mob. Really, do you need to hear anything else?

Ok, since this is a blog about movies, I suppose I should actually tell you something about the film. Bette Davis plays Mary Dwight, a "hostess" at a nightclub that has recently come under ownership of Johnny Vanning (Eduardo Ciannelli), a dangerous mob boss who has killed past "hostesses" for knowing too much. When one of her "clients" is murdered for paying his bill in bad checks, Mary is arrested and encouraged by D.A David Graham (Humphrey Bogart) to assist him in bringing Vanning down. Mary agrees, only to aid Vanning by presenting false evidence. However, Mary must turn to Graham when Vanning turns against her in an effort to bring Johnny to justice.

Bette Davis is pretty good in the title role. Granted, a tough girl is not exactly the hardest role for Davis to play, but she gives Mary some intelligence which at least adds some depth to the character. But there are some moments where she descends into melodrama, but at least in one scene it works, since it's supposed to be an act for the D.A.

Bogart is good in this film as well, despite his character being fairly shallow. He really only exists as a crusader out to destroy Vanning, and despite his character making claims of growing up in poor situations, we never get anything beyond. If the film would have gone a bit into his backstory, the character could have become more realized.

The rest of the cast is all serviceable. Since the film is mainly a vehicle for Davis, she gets most of the screentime and we don't really get anything from the other character to suggest any sort of well-roundedness. Though it's worth mentioning that Jane Bryan plays Betty, Mary's sister, and she has a very bizarre story arc. She is in town for a college football game and is under the idea that Mary is a model in a dress shop, but once she finds out about Mary's whoring, she suddenly decides to drop out of college and become a party girl. It's very odd and hardly believable, but it moves along the plot so we have to take it as is.

The actual plot of the film is a bit predictable, and we can guess all of the major plot points before they happen, but as with most films, the performances are what makes the film interesting and the two leads of Davis and Bogart are good enough to make this film easy to watch (it's also fairly short, only around 90 minutes)

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