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Satan Met a Lady (1936)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery  |  22 July 1936 (USA)
6.2
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 1,352 users  
Reviews: 31 user | 15 critic

Sardonic detective Shane, thrown out of one town for bringing trouble, heads for home and his ex-partner's detective agency. The business is in a sad way, and Shane, who has had the ... See full summary »

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Title: Satan Met a Lady (1936)

Satan Met a Lady (1936) on IMDb 6.2/10

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Warren William ...
Alison Skipworth ...
Arthur Treacher ...
Marie Wilson ...
Wini Shaw ...
Astrid Ames (as Winifred Shaw)
Porter Hall ...
Olin Howland ...
Charles C. Wilson ...
Detective Pollock (as Charles Wilson)
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Storyline

Sardonic detective Shane, thrown out of one town for bringing trouble, heads for home and his ex-partner's detective agency. The business is in a sad way, and Shane, who has had the forethought to provide himself with a 250-dollar commission from an old lady on the train, is welcomed with open arms. When pretty Valerie Purvis walks in the next day willing to pay over the odds to put a tail on the man who did her wrong, Shane's way with the ladies looks like paying off yet again. But things start to go wrong when his partner is murdered, and Shane himself comes home to find his apartment wrecked by a gentlemanly crook who comes back to apologise -- and to tell him a fascinating fairy-story about the fabled Horn of Roland that looks like not being so mythical after all. Miss Purvis wants protection. The police want answers. And all sorts of people want the 'French horn'... but Shane is one jump ahead of everyone all the way. Well, almost. Written by Igenlode Wordsmith

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

horn | train | 1930s | macguffin | jewel | See All (30) »


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Approved
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Release Date:

22 July 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hard Luck Dame  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The second of three film adaptations of Dashiell Hammett's "The Maltese Falcon," this film has notable connections to both other versions. First, this film's screenwriter, Brown Holmes, was also credited as a screenwriter on The Maltese Falcon (1931), directed by Roy Del Ruth. Second, this film's cinematographer, Arthur Edeson, was also the director of photography for John Huston's The Maltese Falcon (1941). Third, Warren William, who plays the Sam Spade character (Ted Shane) in this film, also played Perry Mason in a series of films beginning in 1934, but was replaced in 1936 by Ricardo Cortez - who had played Sam Spade in the 1931 "Maltese Falcon". Finally, Bette Davis filled in for Raymond Burr when he had to have surgery in Perry Mason: The Case of Constant Doyle (1963). See more »

Goofs

The sign at the site of the first murder is misspelled; it reads "Glen Lawn Cemetary." See more »

Quotes

Ted Shayne: Telling you anything would be like contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
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Connections

Referenced in All About Bette (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

Sweet Georgia Brown
(1925) (uncredited)
Music by Maceo Pinkard and Ben Bernie
Played by the band at the nightclub
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User Reviews

 
Initial comedy starts to lag
8 July 2005 | by (England) – See all my reviews

It had never previously occurred to me that the convoluted plot of 'The Maltese Falcon' was verging on that of a farce; but in fact this reinterpretation fits with surprising success throughout most of the action of the film...

The gulf between this version of the story and the darker wartime 'Falcon' of 1941 is a jolting one, but when it is compared to the film of which it is actually a remake -- Warner Brothers' 1931 'Maltese Falcon' -- the relationship between the earlier two becomes obvious. Warren William's Ted Shane, with his womanising touch and his insolent grin, has far more in common with Ricardo Cortez' silent-style Sam Spade than with Bogart's noir version (and, to be honest, with the 'blond Satan' of Hammett's original novel).

William is well cast here as the amoral private eye playing all sides off against one another: in this film, he comes across as being in control of the situation all along, tricking information out of the gentleman crook Travers, disarming the impotent but vindictive Kenneth and driving a hard bargain with Madame Barabbas for a treasure he knows to be without value. When he induces Valerie to confess her guilt in the railway carriage, I was all but expecting him to produce a concealed police officer at the appropriate moment to bear witness! Despite the fact that everyone from his former lover to his own secretary seems to take it for granted, despite his assurances, that it was he who murdered his partner, Ted Shane -- as befits the hero of a light-hearted farce -- never leaves us in any doubt that he is destined to come out on top.

Bette Davis, despite her top billing, has relatively little to do here and demonstrates an all too apparent lack of interest. Bebe Daniels, in the equivalent 1931 part, is both more alluring and more obviously faking it; her scenes with Sam Spade often have more comedy, as her character rolls out her full seductive armoury against a complacent male target, than Davis' scenes underplayed here in what is intended to be a farce. I found the minor role of the scatty little secretary Murgatroyd -- who, in this version ends up with the hero for the requisite happy ending! -- to be the more memorable one.

But I'm afraid the ending was my main difficulty with the reinterpretation of this plot in comic vein. The mix-ups, multiple women and seemingly pointless events of the start are almost intrinsically amusing, and indeed are already played as such in the 1931 'Maltese Falcon'. The final scenes, however, with their betrayals, dirty dealing and killings for a fortune that never was, have a much more nihilistic tone, and the 'siege' sequence of the earlier version, where all the characters are locked in a room together by mutual suspicion until the morning comes, holds an edge of explosive threat. Staging the equivalent sequence on the docks under a fire-hose downpour, with Shane brandishing the valuables literally just above the villains' noses and getting paid for his trouble rather than coshed for the loot, doesn't serve to raise a laugh... but does rob the scene of most of its effectiveness.

Likewise, Valerie's admission of murder and her railing at Shane after he hands her over to the police are not only not funny -- although at least in the latter case, they're clearly intended that way -- but they have no emotional impact either. The result was an unsatisfactory resolution without any resonance to speak of; and Valerie's parting shot, while being dragged off to pay the penalty for murder, where she predicts for Shane the dire fate of... marriage, falls flat as almost embarrassingly inappropriate.

'Satan Met a Lady' actually starts off by looking quite promising and at the outset is genuinely funny: but a lacklustre part for the leading lady, plus a growing incongruity between the hard-boiled subject matter and its delivery, serve to undermine this favourable first impression. I enjoyed Warren William's performance, but in the end I felt the film didn't really work.


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