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William T. Hurtz
Boozy, brassy Apple Annie, a beggar with a basket of apples, is as much as part of downtown New York as old Broadway itself. Bootlegger Dave the Dude is a sucker for her apples --- he thinks they bring him luck. But Dave and girlfriend Queenie Martin need a lot more than luck when it turns out that Annie is in a jam and only they can help: Annie's daughter Louise, who has lived all her life in a Spanish convent, is coming to America with a Count and his son. The count's son wants to marry Louise, who thinks her mother is part of New York society. It's up to Dave and Queenie and their Runyonesque cronies to turn Annie into a lady and convince the Count and his son that they are hobnobbing with New York's elite. Written by
Apple Annie (Bette Davis) makes her living as a gin-sauced, basket-carrying, apple-selling NYC street woman. This motion picture is in color which makes Davis's famous facial expressions, especially her eyes, all the more effective.
The people Apple Annie hangs out with are other street vendors who are social misfits of various sorts; but, they have one thing in common: poverty.
Apple Annie is well connected with a mobster known as The Dude. Fortunately, he's superstitious. The tough mobster (Glen Ford) believes Apple Annie's apples bring him daily good luck because she says, "God Bless You," to everyone who buys from her.
All along Apple Annie's been writing her daughter on stationary from an upper-crusty city apartment complex, in order to pretend that she's a well-to-do lady. When her daughter, Louise (Ann Margaret, in her film debut) writes that she's coming to the city with her potential fiancé', whose father is a Spanish count, Apple Annie's pretense is not only about to be exposed but it could ruin her only child's chance for marrying well enough so that she'll never live in poverty as her mother has.
The rest of the story is fabulous: humorous, ingenious, well-casted, scripted and acted. It's anything but a typical mob story.
For me, the priceless scenes are between the veteran actor Bette Davis and upstart Ann Margaret. Imagine being able to claim that in your first film you starred as Bette Davis's daughter? Margaret gives a fine first film performance face-to-face with the Queen of the Screen. Peter Faulk does his mobster version of "Columbo," in top form. Davis, in Technicolor, delivers one of the most realistic, heart-felt, truly dramatic metamorphosis characters I've seen.
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