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Gregory La Cava
Constance Bennett's career seemed to be on the skids by the 1940s, which saw her appearing in B-movies and supporting roles. By 1948, she was producing her own films (she also produced Paris Underground in 1945). Both of these films are well-made late career entries for a fading star.
In Smart Woman, Bennett is supported by a strong cast, which includes Brian Aherne and Barry Sullivan, plus a host of reliable supporting players such as Otto Kruger (whom I remember as the older man opposite Joan Crawford in Chained) and Selena Royle (also opposite Joan Crawford in Damned Don't Cry).
The script is intelligent if not a roaring success. The chemistry between Bennett and her co-stars does not run particularly hot, but Bennett does get a chance to wear some gorgeous Adrian gowns and prove she is still a good-looking woman at the (then) advanced age of 43. The photography is polished and Bennett seems to be lit and photographed very, very carefully. There are even some noirish camera angles and shadow play. Bennett's performance is strong and does not appear dated with any evidence of her days as a silent film star. Her style seems contemporary, although Bennett is no longer the hypnotic beauty of her precode heyday.
As Bennett's second production effort, it is a solid vehicle for her, and an interesting film overall, but it was just not powerful enough to give her career any boost. After this, it was all supporting roles. But the film can easily be recommended as a glossy, well-made women's picture. If the film had a low budget, it's impossible to tell.
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