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Madeleine Damien is the fashion editor of a slick Manhattan magazine by day and a lively party girl by night. Unfortunately, the pressures of her job, including kowtowing to a hefty advertiser, and her bad luck with men are driving her to a breakdown. She seeks the help of a psychiatrist, and under his orders, quits her job and moves into a smaller flat under a new identity. She becomes interested in painting and a handsome neighbor. He soon finds out about her past when an ex-suitor implicates her in a murder. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Gorgeous Hedy Lamarr Outshines Glizy Fashions and Psychology on the Half-Shell
It would be a mistake to say that Hedy Lamarr was just a pretty face for two reasons. 1) Pretty would be a gross understatement. She had a gorgeous face, and all the rest of her was likewise, if you get what I mean. 2) She really could act, as she proved taking on a complex role in Dishonored Lady. Okay, she wasn't in a class with Bette Davis. But then Bette Davis would not have been believable in Hedy's role, because no one would believe all those men would have been so obsessively attracted to the frumpy Ms. Davis.
Dishonored Lady is an early example of the "pycho-drama" and possibly one of the best in that typically dreary, and not so entertaining genre. The average American of the late 1940's wasn't really sure what a psychiatrist was, unless he was a WWII veteran suffering from what is now called post-traumatic stress syndrome. But the high-living Hollywood crowd knew all about that shadowy type of doc. So, it is not surprising we started seeing movies about people with structural problems in the upper stories. Joan Crawford at this stage of her career glommed on to this overwrought type of dramas. Not surprisingly, since it would be a major shocker if a dame like her didn't have a shrink on the payroll.
In Dishonored Lady the shrink, played with great verve by Morris Carnovsky, is the pivotal character. Hedy's character is a high-paid advertising designer, surrounded by shallow, dishonorable men who take advantage of her promiscuous nature. I say promiscuous, but I mean by the standards of the late 1940's, when the world was only just starting to go mad. By today's drop-your-drawers-if-somebody-just-looks-like-they-want-you-to standards maybe she would be regarded as a prude. At least she has some guilt feelings about it. In fact she becomes so disgusted with herself that she tries to commit suicide by ramming her speeding car into a stone fence. She has the good luck 1) not to be seriously injured and 2) to fall right into the attentions of psychiatrist Carnovsky, who owns the house behind the fence. He proceeds to help her get over the suicidal urge and to put some corners on her round heels.
Turns out she has found in this psychiatrist one of the best of that iffy bunch. Though we see the couch business in his office as if he were a practitioner of the now-discredited Freudian branch of psychoanalysis, he is in reality a common sense psychologist. Like one of those good, old-time, tough priests, he doesn't mind telling someone he or she is doing wrong and just needs to straighten up. Best line in the movie -- when one of Hedy's rich, carnivorous ex-boyfriends takes offense at Carnovsky's criticism of his ways, the psychiatrist replies, "I usually get paid for insulting people." It goes on from there, and this is a very entertaining movie. It's part psycho-drama, part crime drama, part courtroom drama, part love story. All works well. Heddy's supporting cast, led by Carnovsky and Dennis O'Keefe are all very good. O'Keefe, cast somewhat against type, plays a nice medical research doctor who thinks of nothing but germs until he falls in love at first sight with Hedy (and what man wouldn't). But we get to see a little of his tough guy side before the end. To say any late 'forties movie has good cinematography and fluid editing is redundant.
Dishonored Lady is an enjoyable watch and a good showcase for Hedy Lamarr's beauty and talent.
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