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William A. Seiter
Marianne falls in love with con man Valentine who uses their relation to get her father's endorsement on a money-raising scheme. He runs off with the money and Marianne, later dumping her. Her sister Laura loves Dr. Lindley although she knows he loves Marianne. Marianne returns and marries a wealthy young man, and Lindley turns his love toward Laura. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
1931's "The Bad Sister" is chiefly remembered as being the film debut of screen legend Bette Davis, who spent a few despondent months at Universal that year before finding greener pastures at Warner Bros. The title role, however, went to Sidney Fox, also making her movie debut, but in a quirk of fate, Universal's star push on her behalf instead of Davis resulted in Sidney's career ending in three years, while 'the good sister' was being hailed as a star. Not only did Universal miss the boat on these two actresses, they failed to see the potential in 4th billed Humphrey Bogart, who followed Davis to Warners playing essentially the same role he does here, a smooth-talking, big city con man who preys upon the citizens of Central City Ohio, with Miss Fox forging her father's signature to cinch the swindle. Top billing goes to doctor Conrad Nagel, naively in love with 'bad sister' Sidney, when it's 'good sister' Bette secretly in love with him. Bette herself despaired over this film, convinced she had no future in pictures; the virginal 23 year old is effectively deglamorized, dressed like a grape picker's daughter, hair tightly bound in a bun, yet those 'Bette Davis Eyes' remain intact, yearning desire behind them. I myself was curious to see more of the diminutive Sidney Fox, inexplicably top billed over Bela Lugosi in 1932's "Murders in the Rue Morgue" (reuniting her with Bert Roach), but remained entranced by Bette Davis instead; and to think Carl Laemmle Jr. famously said of her in this film, "she has about as much sex appeal as Slim Summerville!"
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