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Deluxe melodrama with enough plot for three pictures...
Joan Crawford, in a rare case of very sly, very competent underplaying, is cast as a facially scarred woman who falls in league (and perhaps in lust) with a blackmailing schemer with murder on his mind. The blackmail part of the deal is foiled when accomplice Crawford is befriended by Melvyn Douglas, the victim's husband (and plastic surgeon!); after restoring her beauty, Douglas must then stop Joan from carrying out the murder plot, targeting a child no less! Remake of an early Ingrid Bergman movie (1938's "En Kvinnas ansikte"), which in turn was based upon a French play, the film is over-plotted and over-flowing with hectic minutiae and chatty supporting characters. Also complicating matters is a story-frame set in the Royal Swedish Court: seems Joan is indeed on trial for murder, but whom did she kill? Despite a slow beginning, this turns out to be a rather shrewdly devised, sharply written melodrama, with some delicious turns of the screw. Crawford and Douglas work smoothly together (they were reteamed for a comedy the following year, "They All Kissed the Bride"), and the cinematography and art direction are marvelous. George Cukor directed, without a sense of humor, and the script might've stood some paring down. Otherwise, shamefully entertaining. **1/2 from ****
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