7.4/10
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48 user 20 critic

Marked Woman (1937)

Approved | | Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller | 10 April 1937 (USA)
A crusading DA persuades a clip joint "party girl" to testify against her mobster boss after her innocent sister is accidentally murdered during one of his unsavory "parties".

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(original screen play), (original screen play)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Rosalind Marquis ...
Florrie Liggett
...
...
...
Louie
...
...
Gordon
...
Charlie Delaney
...
Ralph Krawford
...
District Attorney Arthur Sheldon
...
Carlos San Martín ...
Head Waiter
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Storyline

In this roman-a-clef for the infamous Lucky Luciano Trial, Mary Dwight and four roommates work as hostesses at the Club Intime, a "clip joint" that offers gambling, liquor, and female companionship to the "big spender" clientèle. When ruthless thug and pimp Johnny Vanning takes over all the clubs in town, the girls are forced to follow Vanning's rules and kick back on their "tips" in exchange for protection. Although she is not a hardened old hand like Gabby and Estella, Mary knows enough to sidestep Vanning's amorous advances. Unfortunately the more naive Mary Lou is impressed by Vanning's oily veneer of materialism and accepts invitations to "entertain" at the gangster's private parties. Mary's naive younger sister Betty arrives from college just when Mary and her roommates are arrested as material witnesses in the murder of one of the casino's non-paying customers. Vanning's corrupt lawyer frees the others but pressures Mary to commit perjury in order to discredit crusading ... Written by duke1029

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Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

10 April 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La mujer marcada  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first movie Bette Davis made after her court battle with Warner Brothers to get better movie roles. See more »

Goofs

Guy Usher's character is Detective Casey, but he is listed in the credits as playing Ferguson. See more »

Quotes

Johnny Vanning: [to Gordon] Me. I don't make deals with nobody... they make deals with me. All the time I've been that way - ever since I was 'that' big.
See more »


Soundtracks

Mister and Missus Doakes
(1936) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Sung by Lola Lane
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User Reviews

 
Banned here in Australia and Finland!
1 March 2007 | by (Brisbane, Australia) – See all my reviews

"Marked Woman" was banned on it's original release here in Australia then abruptly withdrawn at the last moment from it's initial television screening here in 1966. Why all the fuss? Well it's because of those female leads playing "hostesses" in a "clip joint" are obviously playing prostitutes! Shock! And in a film from 1937!

This film followed hot on the heels of the sensational and newsbreaking 1936 trial of mobster Lucky Luciano who was convicted on the evidence of the prostitutes who worked for him. This was the sort of material ("torn from the headlines") that was the staple and was very much a part of the house style of 1930's Warners - gritty, hard boiled, tough stories concerning the working person facing the depression. At the end of the opening credits there is a title card disclaiming any resemblance to persons real or otherwise in the film. This was rarely if ever stated so strongly in films of this period. Warners were obviously very conscious about being seen to be not capitalizing on such a headline event so soon after - which they were!

Simple sets abound reflecting the obsession that Warners had with economy - even the nightclub is rather plain with not too many long shots to expose too much. This nightclub over at RKO would have had a distinctly chic Art Deco look as per the trademark of that studios Art Director, and the whole production is also in stark contrast to the lavish Crawford and Shearer vehicles over at MGM.

This film is late in Davis' "early period" - one which I find fascinating with it's odd mix of narrative concerning women and crime. It is also a very interesting vehicle of Humphrey Bogart still years off from the super-stardom he found from "High Sierra" in 1941. His role is very much the reflection of the censors requirement from 1934 that the law makers be glorified and not the law breakers as was very much the case and staple of pre-1934 Warners output. His speech as District Attorney in court has an abundance of force and conviction.

Other players in the film to my mind fit like a glove. Eduardo Ciannelli is suitably creepy and sleazy as the crime boss. Lola Lane, Rosalind Marquis (both giving us two nice Warren and Dubin numbers in the nightclub), Mayo Methot (soon to be Mrs Bogart in real life in what was a very stormy union) and Isabel Jewell (the perfect little gold-digger) portray with the toughness required and as the other "marked women" trapped in a life on the wrong side of the law. Costuming reflects perfectly their "class" in spite of their lucrative profession.

"Marked Woman" also closely followed the landmark court case between a very unhappy Davis (trapped in what was very much a man's studio) and Warners over the crummy scripts she was repeatedly presented in spite of her landmark performances in "Of Human Bondage" ('34) at RKO and "The Petrified Forest" ('35). After being off the screen for almost a year she lost the case and came back humbly with the studio relieved to have their "upcoming" leading female star back in action (tempramental star Kay Francis career at Warners was winding down by this stage) and eventually giving her more meaty and suitable parts like "Marked Women" with their really coming to the party in giving her "Jezebel" in 1938.

"Jezebel" was the doorway for Davis' "mature" phase for it was the director of "Jezebel" (and subsequent vehicles "The Letter" (40) and "The Little Foxes" (41)) William Wyler was able to tame her and provide much assistance in maturing her performances. Simultaneously Warners became a outfit turning out extremely polished vehicles and one of the champions of the "Womens Picture" through the 1940's.

We are very fortunate in the Australian National Film and Sound Archive having a good 16mm copy of the film which we will be screening at our film society this year. There's nothing like seeing a film like this in it's intended environment - the big screen!

Enter a suspended state of disbelief and enjoy this entertaining and gritty melodrama from Hollywood's golden age!


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