Lady Gangster (1942) Poster


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Fast Paced Fun And Entertainment
BillDP22 September 2003
I had a lot of fun watching this crime quickie from Warner Brothers studios. Lasting a rapidly paced 62 minutes, the film definitely entertains if your into the genre. Faye Emerson plays a would be actress who gets caught up with a gang of bank robbers and takes the rap for a $40,000 heist the gang pulled off. She ends up in jail and what follows is as many double crosses, prison spats, car chases and shootouts as you can possibly cram into 62 minutes. The film is directed with a nice flair for action by Robert Florey under the pseudonym of Florian Roberts. Good support for Emerson from a cast that includes Julie Bishop, Frank Wilcox, Ruth Ford(cute as a damn button) and a young Jackie Gleason. I must have really enjoyed this one as I couldn't believe how fast it flew by.
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A 'Brutal' Typical 1930s Prison Flick
ccthemovieman-123 February 2006
When I see old-time prison/crime movies, I laugh out loud at some of the things I see, at least compared to films of the last 40 years which may be very profane and sadistically violent but at least they are realistic.

In this film, the lead female character " Dot Burton," played by Faye Emerson, is sent to a women's prison. Inside are all white women except one black, who dances all the time. Talk about a stereotype. Emerson and her best buddy in here look like lesser versions of Rita Hayworth, Look around and you more of these nice, wholesome-looking babes. I guarantee you no prison population has ever looked this good! Yes, there are a few "baddies" and, of course, they are ugly women.

The story also gives us a typical classic movie romance in which a guy falls in love with a "dame" the first time he talks to her. Then she falls for him quickly and but right away, of course, there is a misunderstanding and now the woman hates him. Ten minutes later she loves him again, then hates him, then loves him, etc. etc. No wonder few people in the film world ever took marriage seriously. On screen,it was just one big joke.

Anyway, the story is pretty interesting even if it is more than a bit too dated. The film might be noted more for having two very young actors in here than anything else, guys who went on to because famous on television in the 1950s: Paul Drake and Jackie Gleason. Drake was Perry Mason's assistant on hat hit TV show and Gleason, of course, went on to huge TV fame with "The Honeymooners" and other shows. Here, he is billed as Jackie C. C Gleason.

"Lady Gangster" is only a little over an hour which is fine and the DVD transfer was surprisingly good. This was part of a 4-movie disc called "Mobster Movies," put out by Platinum. I have two of these discs so there are eight films I can watch, movies that, as far as I can tell, were not available on VHS. The other movie I watched on one of the other discs did not have the good picture quality this one had, so they probably vary from film-to-film.

But, despite the drawbacks, these 1930s films are fun to watch because they are fast-moving, short and entertaining.
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Good Flick for a remake
ralamerica27 January 2006
It's a peppy flick and in some ways better than the original 1933 movie titled Ladies They Talk About that starred Barbara Stanwyck.Fortunately, the Stanwyck movie was pre-Hays code so there is some snappy dialog and not so veiled references to prostitution that couldn't be filmed in Lady Gangster. The opening scene obviously shot in a real bank gives the film a realistic gritty feel that doesn't come off when a scene like this is shot on a set. Jackie Gleason in a small supporting role as one of Emerson's fellow bank robbers, provides a few glimpses of that "Poor Soul" face that he made famous years later on his TV show. Also, catching a very young dark-haired William Hopper (later of Perry Mason fame as Paul Drake)was also a pleasant surprise.
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Surprisingly Entertaining
Uriah4318 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
For a B-Movie lasting only 62 minutes this picture was surprisingly entertaining. Faye Emerson stars as a failed actress named "Dorothy Burton" who is almost broke and needs money. So she agrees to help 3 criminals rob a bank. The problem is that she gets caught. Even so, she remains loyal to her companions and refuses to tell the district attorney "Lewis Sinton" (Herbert Rawlinson) anything. Now, rather than reveal what happens next and risk spoiling the film for those who haven't seen it, I will just say that Faye Emerson's performance was simply superb. Not only was she beautiful but she also had an intangible and unique quality about her that was absolutely delightful. Be that as it may, in my opinion this film didn't last nearly as long as I would have liked and because of these time constraints there were some scenes that could have been played out a bit more for a better effect. In any case, if a person enjoys movies of this type from this particular era I think they may be pleasantly surprised by this movie. Slightly above average.
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fair gangster pic with a lady inmate
didi-54 November 2008
Dorothy Burton helps with a bank robbery and ends up in the slammer for it, while her radio presenter friend tries to help her get off. Faye Emerson plays Dorothy as well as more famous actresses would and is supported by a pretty good cast which includes a young Jackie Gleason and DeWolf Hopper (son of Hedda).

'Lady Gangster' is pretty formulaic, with an ending which stretches credibility, but its production values are fairly high, which always makes a film worth a look. Dorothy's conviction relies on some misunderstandings and a dog which doesn't belong - but we wouldn't want to begrudge her the scenes with the catty inmate and strong matron, or the scene where she's visited by her sister!
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"I like women who ain't all sawdust inside."
classicsoncall24 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
All the elements were here for an intriguing and gritty gangster/prison drama, but once Dot Burton (Faye Emerson) wound up at the penitentiary, the film started a lot to resemble a high school sorority league. All smiles and chatty, Dot and her new jailbird friend Myrtle (Julie Bishop) wind up scheming about how she can make the best of her sentence, until the time comes to claim the forty thousand dollars she scammed from her bumbling partners. I have to give the film makers credit for dressing up mobster Carey Wells (Roland Drew) in drag, that was both clever and corny at the same time. I'd love to know how many takes were necessary to film the visitation scene when Dot's 'sister' comes to see her in prison.

The relationship between Dot Burton and Ken Phillips (Frank Wilcox) didn't quite work for me either, especially from her side. I mean seriously, what did she see in this guy to spark a romantic angle? Especially since she knew him as an adult when she was still a kid. The plot would have worked without going for this stretch.

The surprise for me in the story was one of Jackie Gleason's very early screen appearances when he was still using the middle initial 'C'. Unfortunately he didn't have a whole lot to do as the gang's getaway driver. If you get the chance, try to catch him in the Bogart film "All Through The Night" where in a similar role he gets to weigh in on World War II military strategy and how the Allies could win.

As I sit here writing this, the thought occurred to me that as a Warner Brothers film, this could just as easily have been an East Side Kids story, with all the female leads replaced by Billy Halop, Bobby Jordan, Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, et al. Throw in Ann Sheridan for the Ken Phillips character and you would have had a much livelier story. Still, at just a couple of minutes over an hour, "Lady Gangster" is an interesting little diversion, but don't go in expecting to see a real lady gangster.
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Minor But Has a Good Cast
Was the concept of a female criminal so odd at the time? What about Bonnie Parker? This is a gangster story with the sexes reversed, in any case. The criminal who goes to the slammer is a woman. The prison is nothing compared to the one in "Caged." Julie Bishop, who's very good, wears a rather glamorous uniform.

The movie trots right along, though. It has an excellent cast. Of course, it's fun to see the young Jackie Gleason as a bank robber. He looks kind of naive and cuddly.

Faye Emerson was an excellent actress. She adorned many a B-picture. She wasn't a great beauty: Maybe that's why she never became a major star of movies. She was versatile -- sweet, wisecracking, or evil. One thing that always comes across in her performances: intelligence.
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Hitchcoc15 December 2006
I think the difference between good and bad movies is about the characters. Do they behave properly, given the world created for them. I never bought into the motives of the young woman in this film. She is too pretty and too confident to be desperate enough to do what she does. Nevertheless, she ends up in prison with a group of characters, including a classic snitch and her deaf cohort. People are looking out for her. People are after her. She has the money that was stolen. Talk about your stupid criminals. It's so full of unbelievable events, including one of the bank robbers showing up in the jail in drag. There's also an off again, on again, thing between the main character and a man who turned her in. It just never gels. Not to mention the goofy prison setting and lack of security. Not much to bother with.
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Fair Enough for 62 Minutes!
JohnHowardReid12 July 2008
The "B" films from major studios usually look far more glossy and professional than those turned out from Poverty Row, even when the subject matter is virtually identical. This is not to say that they are necessarily more entertaining. A fair case in point is this cleaned-up version of a gritty Barbara Stanwyck melodrama. It looks slick and it runs smooth, but although competently acted, it doesn't hold a candle to the more earthy original. Mind you, there are compensations. It's always good to see Faye Emerson in a lead role, and she receives great support from Julie Bishop, Dorothy Vaughan, Virginia Brissac and Vera Lewis. But it's Dorothy Adams, in a meaty role for once, who actually steals the acting honors. By contrast, the male players contribute considerably less to the movie's fair-enough success. Roland Drew makes an attempt at the chief villain, while Frank Wilcox takes aim at the hero. Both fall short. Jackie Gleason in a straight role here as one of the gangsters might have had a chance had his role not been so disappointingly small. Ever reliable Charles Wilson gets the nod instead.
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The Author's Life Was More Interesting Than This Film
bkoganbing9 January 2011
Lady Gangster was based on a play written by Dorothy Mackaye who did some time in prison for covering up a homicide of her husband Ray Raymond by actor Paul Kelly who also served in prison before resuming his career. All the principals in that affair are gone now and their lives and story would certainly be far more interesting than this film which had a previous incarnation by Warner Brothers in 1933. That film was Ladies They Talk About and starred Barbara Stanwyck. As it was before the Code, I'm betting that was a better version. It certainly sounded more interesting in the Stanwyck biography I read.

Faye Emerson is no Stanwyck, but she's all right in the role of an actress fallen on bad times and now hooking up with bank robbers Roland Drew, Bill Phillips and Jackie Gleason. Yes the great one is in the cast as wheel man of the bank robbery that Emerson acts as a shill/decoy for and gets caught.

In prison for her crime Faye makes friends with Julie Bishop and as she knows where the money is hid, she has that as a bargaining chip for her release. But the plot takes some strange turns and she's forced to escape.

The male roles in this film are weak, Frank Wilcox is a bit of a doofus as your crusading crime busting radio commentator. Why Emerson falls for him is beyond me. The script is weak and meandering for Lady Gangster as well. For instance an element is introduced of a rivalry between District Attorney Herbert Rawlinson and Wilcox, with Wilcox intimating the DA is corrupt. But that doesn't go anywhere. Certainly the talents of Jackie Gleason are not used at all, but Warners never realized what they had under contract.

On the plus side, the best supporting performance is clearly that of prison snitch Ruth Ford who really doesn't do it for material gain, she just likes the attention. Ford did quite a lot with a small role.

A product of Warner Brothers B picture unit, Lady Gangster just doesn't make it.
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