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Women in Hiding (1940)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Short | 22 June 1940 (USA)
The MGM crime reporter introduces Dr. Mallory, health commissioner of a large Midwestern city, he who talks about the dangers pregnant women face by going to clinics that advertise discreet... See full summary »

Director:

(as Joe Newman)

Writer:

(original screenplay)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Jane Taylor
Jane Drummond ...
Alice aka Bunny
Mary Bovard ...
Mary Wilson
...
Dr. Mansby, Clinic Administrator
...
Dr. Bates
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Storyline

The MGM crime reporter introduces Dr. Mallory, health commissioner of a large Midwestern city, he who talks about the dangers pregnant women face by going to clinics that advertise discreet services aimed at women in troubled circumstances. Such clinics - whose sole motive is profit at all cost without regard to the wants of the women or their health, but who generally operate just within the boundaries of the law - prey on the fear women face about social condemnation. One such clinic which charged exorbitant rates in return for discretion was operated by Drs. Mansby and Bates. Mary, Bunny and Jane were three women who shared a room at the clinic, who were all in circumstances where they wanted their pregnancy to be a secret from all they knew, and who were at various stages of pregnancy. Jane, who was in the earliest stage of pregnancy of the three, witnessed what Mary and Bunny before her went through. Mary's eventual situation, which was unknown to Jane, was that her baby was ... Written by Huggo

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Genres:

Crime | Drama | Short

Certificate:

Approved
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

22 June 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Crime Does Not Pay No. 29: Women in Hiding  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Unflinching story of shame and exploitation
6 October 2016 | by See all my reviews

The MGM of the late '30s and early '40s was a well-oiled machine, cautious from top to bottom, and well-rewarded for that caution by moviegoers. This also applied to their short films, which could easily veer toward a canned message (as most of the Our Gang films in the MGM era show).

Women in Hiding is an unusually raw product underneath the gloss. We hear in unflinching terms about the injuries suffered by the babies treated as cattle by corrupt quacks. We see with our own eyes the physical and psychological toll that the mothers go through. And these mothers turn familiar tropes on their heads.

Mary Bovard (who seemed to go on to mostly small roles, sadly) is Mary, the toughest of the women, the one we may be primed by the narrative to feel the least sympathy for, compared to the everywoman lead Jane and sweet Bunny. Yet she is the one who first breaks our hearts as she has doubts over what she's gotten into, and pays the ultimate price for the cruel games of the baby sellers. The director does a wonderful job making us feel the horror and pain of what happens to her while only letting us see a brief glimpse. Less really is often more in these types of short cautionary tales.

Jane Drummond, who also seemed consigned to nonexistent roles after this short, plays sweet, lighthearted Bunny, too innocent for the world she's in. Her fate is no less heartbreaking, and equally subdued in just the right ways.

Marsha Hunt is Jane, our ingenue, our eyes. Hunt gives the character a believability that is perfect for the era and for the tone of the piece. We know that this is not a "happy" ending for Jane, and that she will likely never be the same again. Most impressive of all, Jane isn't saved by a man or waiting for a man to find her. She does everything she can to get out and manages to do it.

Many short subjects feel dated the minute they are released, much less 75 years later, but the basic message of this story - young, vulnerable women who lack support and are made to feel shame will be destroyed by the bottom feeders of society - is more important than ever.


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