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The life of Sadie McKee takes many twists and turns. She starts as the daughter of the cook for the well off Alderson family. Lawyer Michael Alderson likes Sadie but she runs off to New York City with boyfriend Tommy to get married. Before they get married, Tommy takes up with show girl Dolly and deserts her. Sadie stays in New York and becomes involved with Michael's boss, millionaire Brennan. She marries the chronically alcoholic Brennan for his money. Michael views her as a golddigger at first, but then sees her help Brennan beat his alcoholism. Sadie leaves Brennan to try and find Tommy when she hears that her old flame is in trouble. Little does she know just how much trouble. Written by
Gary Jackson <email@example.com>
Clarence Brown was an above average director and his pictures with Joan Crawford in the early and mid '30s are better than those she did with others. Brown had an eye and a sense of detail and he favors long takes with two or more performers interacting, which creates a certain tension where there might otherwise be none. Certainly this improbable script is not noticeably better than others Joan did around that time, but everything about this picture works perfectly.
Having finally found her best 'look,' Crawford is undeniably gorgeous, the ravishing epitome of glamor. And Adrian does some of his best work for her in this, putting her in one stunning and flattering gown after another. She is also given a talented and varied supporting cast and all of the big set pieces work, though Edward Arnold's drunk scenes go on for too long.
And there are a couple of fantastic sets, one of Arnold's mansion and the other of a glass sanitarium in the snow. Though the whole cast is more than adequate, a few players stand out: Jean Dixon is delightfully world weary in a leopard coat, Esther Ralston makes a perfect amoral siren, and it's a bit of a revelation to see how much Leo G. Carroll accomplishes by doing very little in his role as a nasty butler. There's also a fantastic jazz version of "After You've Gone" performed by Gene Austin, Candy Candido and Otto Heimel. As for the main players, Crawford, Franchot Tone and Gene Raymond don't dig very deep in their performances, but with a plucky, luscious Crawford at full tilt and with everything else about this movie clicking so well, it doesn't matter. It works.
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