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William A. Wellman
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Three women who were childhood schoolmates take different paths in life. Vivian marries a very wealthy lawyer and has an adorable boy. Mary, on the other hand, takes the hard road through reform school. After a superstitious faux pas, Vivian's luck turns. She strays from her steadfast husband to a life of debauchery and alcoholism. Meanwhile, Mary turns her life around and not only wins the heart of Vivian's ex-husband, but also becomes a loving step-mother to Vivian's only child. Then Vivian's worthless boyfriend makes a desperate move. Written by
Gary Jackson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A tightly interwoven plot about three "types" of women, from their school days into adulthood, played out with snap and sizzle. This is one fast, loaded movie, playing loose with morals and fast with stereotypes, and playing against them at times. There is little more painful than a man or woman falling to ruins, and it's made so reasonable, so nearly exciting, and so really reprehensible it's a surprise and a cinematic thrill.
Yes, a terrific movie, and not just for 1932. The interplay between the lead women (including a tart young Bette Davis) is great, and as the plot moves into a full blooded crime film (with Warner Brothers knew how to make better than any of them), it really screams. Throw in Humphrey Bogart (a decade before Casablanca) and you have something you have to watch.
But these are the obvious reasons, the film buff draws. Watch lead actresses Joan Blondell and Ann Dvorak for their sheer ability, and their likability. And for how they can be themselves before the code kicked in in two years. Mervin Leroy is a great director, of course (the same year he did the incomparable I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang) and seeing his range and control is a treat. Don't miss it. Just an hour long, too.
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