Criminally underrated drama about a woman (Barbara Stanwyck) working at a dance hall who agrees to marry a poor man (Monroe Owsley) even though she could have had a rich man (Ricardo Cortez) who was in love with her. Soon after the marriage the woman learns that her husband is a womanizer and a thief but she's forced to ask the rich man for money when her husband falls into some major trouble. I had read so many negative reviews about this thing (including one in Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide) that it really took me by surprised and I'd probably go as far as to call it one of the most underrated and un-appreciated films from this era. I'm not going to say this is a lost masterpiece or some important piece of film history but it's certainly a highly entertaining gem that deserves to be re-discovered. What really caught me off guard was the performance of Stanwyck who is quite remarkable. She made a career out of playing tough women who wouldn't take any crap from anyone but here she's the complete opposite as her character is so weak and fragile that it really shocked me at how terrific the actress played it. Just take a look at the first ten minutes when she's forced to be tough inside the dance hall but then the next scene she's falling for the sad story being told to her by Owsley. The compassion Stanwyck expresses in this scene is something I've never seen from her and the eventual weakness of her character is something else I've never seen her do. She handles all of this extremely well and it really made me wish we had gotten to see more roles like this. Sure, she's a legend playing the tough girl but she really was remarkable here and sold every inch of her character. Owsley is also terrific as he too has different sides of his character and he does both of them with ease. I thought he was terrific as the sweet, friendly guy that Stanwyck marries and that sleazy side comes across without any issues. Cortez is another major plus getting to play a soft-hearted guy. Barrymore's direction is pretty straight-forward as he doesn't go for much style but instead lets the performance lead the film. I thought he did a very good job at keeping the drama going and it's a shame this turned out to be his last directorial job. The film is based on a popular song of the day and when I saw this on the credits I thought we were going to be in for a long and boring film but it was the complete opposite. This Columbia film has pretty much been forgotten, which is a real shame but hopefully more people will give it a shot. Film buffs will also notice a line that would become legendary in CASABLANCA but here it is over a decade earlier.
11 of 13 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?