A nightclub singer marries the rich owner of a rubber plantation. When she returns with him to his estate in Malaysia, she finds out that he is cruel, vicious and insanely jealous. She and ...
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A nightclub singer marries the rich owner of a rubber plantation. When she returns with him to his estate in Malaysia, she finds out that he is cruel, vicious and insanely jealous. She and the plantation's overseer develop a mutual attraction, but are terrified at what will happen if her husband finds out. Written by
One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
Although it's seldom discussed, one of the staple genres that classic Hollywood tackled best was the jungle-set melodrama. It gave studio technicians an opportunity to experiment with oppressive artificial sets, eerie sounds effects and expressionist lighting. Those Venetian-blind shadow patterns so characteristic of film noir were preceded by just as many painterly images lit through louvered windows and bamboo curtains. And the exotic backgrounds allowed jaded screenwriters to attain a delirious level of moral turpitude, betrayal, sadistic violence and erotic obsessiveness, not to mention downright racism. White Woman may not quite rank with the finest wallows in the white man's grave (Red Dust, Tropic Zone, the absolutely jaw-dropping Kongo), but it certainly concocts a heady stew of cruelty, masochism and lasciviousness. This is thanks to a dense script by some old reliables, and by another ingenious portrayal by Laughton (much more subdued than in the similarly-set masterpieces, the Beachcomber and Island of Lost Souls, but wilier and more self-deluding.) Lombard was still stuck in her earnest, victimized stage before she hit her stride as a comedienne, but her brittle blonde presence and flustered pretensions are a fine fit here. Charles Bickford kicks the plot into overdrive as a Gable-like he-man who won't brook Laughton's guff. They're a perfect match for each other playing a doomed hand of poker while their gruesome fate awaits them at the hands of the natives they've crossed. Thankfully, the filmmakers avoid the moralising and let the viewer stoically sink into the morass along with them.
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