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John Francis Dillon
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This early talkie is a benchmark for really understanding the amazing range Barbara Stanwyck had as an actress. Fans of her other films of this period know and expect her to be cast as the poor but honest underdog, "doing the right thing". What a departure from that formula her Rose Manning is.
"Happy" Manning, Rose's husband, opens the film by returning to his Mexican hotel/casino. Warmly welcomed, he greets friends and staff. Upon entering his room, [the 22-year-old Stanwyck gives a dazzling, introduction close-up] he presents wife Rose with a diamond anklet. "Oh, you put it on, Happy" smolders Rose. He does, and notices his wife's legs are bruised. Rose then pulls her dressing gown past her knees, blaming a dressing table that needs moved. When "Happy" obliges, he discovers a tie that belongs to the casino manager. Confronting the pair, he correctly surmises his wife's transgression and tells her to leave. At this point, Rose's syrupy denials peel off like the veneer on cheap furniture. "I've been kicked out of better places than this." "Happy" keeps his remorseful Joe at his job and Rose disappears, explained away by newspaper clippings.
The main body of the film begins when "Happy"'s young ward, Bob, arrives for a honeymoon with his new wife, Rose! Stanwyck then provides a jaw-dropping dual character that is just outrageous by any era's standards.
I initially voted 7 for this film as it IS short (my copy 59 mins) and suffers from decomposed stock footage of a football game. Several days after viewing it, I told a friend familiar with Stanwyck's Capra-guided "Ladies Of Leisure" and "Forbidden" about it. "Oh! I've GOT to see that", said she. I realized, then, that this film is really unforgettable. Today I came back to raise my vote to 8. Refreshingly frank, Barbara's 2nd talkie and her third film is something that all should enjoy.
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