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A young woman is on trial for murder. In flashback, we learn of her struggles to overcome poverty as a teenager -- a mistaken arrest and prison term for shoplifting and lack of employment lead to involvement with gangsters. In a brothel, she meets a young lawyer, scion of a wealthy and prestigious family, who falls for her and helps her turn around her life. But her past catches up with her, and she must face the music rather than cause him scandal. Written by
Wow! What a movie! Definitely one of the best Pre-Codes I've seen. Swiftly paced, perfectly edited, with Loretta Young at her most beautiful and giving one of her most believable and honest performances.
After seeing many of Loretta's films from the early 1930s, now I think that she gave her best performances in this period of time. There is a quality of freshness and naturalness, that gives much more truth to Loretta's portrayals in the early 1930s than to her interpretations of the late 1930s and 1940s, with few exceptions. Besides, those huge, beautiful eyes of hers, that smile, those apple cheeks, that slender figure so perfect for those early 1930s gowns, never looked better than in this period.
Here she impersonates a doomed girl, who's known all the ugly aspects of life; the film begins when she's being tried for murder. The movie is told via-flashbacks and depicts how she got into this situation. It's so strange that this picture was produced by MGM; it could have been perfectly done at Warner Brothers. Well, the director, William Wellman, had been making lots of films on the Warner lot (Loretta as well), so he must have put much of the Warner's "Touch" and "mood" into it, perfectly blending it with MGM's gloss and top production values.
Ricardo Cortez is excellent as the "aparently" suave gangster in love with Loretta and Franchot Tone is aptly cast as a society lawyer who falls for her. An excellent cast of supporting actors include Una Merkel, Warren Hymer, Martha Sleeper and those usual reliable butlers: Robert Greig and Halliwell Hobbes.
I found this film so entertaining, so timeless, so modern in many ways. Pre-Code Fans don't dare to miss it!
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