|Index||3 reviews in total|
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
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.
A special prosecutor trying to clean up the town and a lady lawyer
tangle in court, but get romantically involved on the outside.
Lowly Allied Artists (Monogram) assembled an A-list cast, pretty good production values, but then put a no-name director (W. Blatt) with all of 3 directorial credits in charge. The results are flatter than they should be, and I suspect his lack of a sure hand is partially to blame. Unfortunately, Bennett who can be quite sparkling is deadly serious here, somewhat out of sync with Aherne's lighter touch, while I suspect wisecracking O'Shea (Johnny) and the droll Gleason (Corkle) were brought in to liven things up. And, of course, on the sinister side there's that grinning old cobra Otto Kruger as the crooked D.A..
The plot's pretty complicated with an unexpected twist near the end. I couldn't figure out, however, whether the storyline was supposed to be a drama with comical overtones or a romantic comedy with dramatic overtones. Either way, it's a mild disappointment given the cast and battery of writers. (In passingnote that Bennett's lady lawyer wears a hat in court while defending her client. This may be the only time I've seen an officer of the court wearing a hat while court is in session. Nothing hangs on this; I'm just curious.)
Constance Bennett is the "Smart Woman" in this 1948 film, and Brian
Aherne is the attorney on the opposite side who falls in love with her.
Due to a corrupt political machine, the DA (Otto Kruger) has refused to indict on several cases. For that reason, a special prosecutor, Robert Larrimore (Aherne) is brought in. Larrimore and attorney Paula Rogers (Bennett) face off in court, and Larrimore falls for her right away and begins dating her. When the DA is killed, mobster Frank McCoy (Barry Sullivan) is arrested, and he appeals to Paula to help him. Larrimore will be trying for the state, and Paula has reason to fear that the situation will hurt their relationship.
This is a pretty good movie, though it's easy to figure out Paula's problems very early on. The cast is good, with a mix of '30s stars like Aherne, Bennett, Kruger, character actors like James Gleason and John Eldredge, as well as '40s newcomers Sullivan and O'Shea (who married Virginia Mayo).
The film was produced by Bennett herself, who was no longer the big star she had been in the '30s, thanks to now being 43 years old. The supporting roles for her had started in 1940 with "Two-Faced Woman," when she was 36. Fortunately things are better for women now, but age has always been a huge issue for women in Hollywood. Bennett, a luminous beauty in the '30s, is a good example. Bennett was an excellent businesswoman, and her reputation for glamor served her well in her cosmetics business and also a clothing business. She worked tirelessly during the war effort and, married to a general, entertained the troops who stayed overseas after WW II (she was an accomplished singer). She also did a nightclub act.
"Smart Woman" is not as good as Bennett's other production, Paris Underground, but it's serviceable.
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