Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
Marked Woman (1937)
This is a recent DVD release from Warner Bros that stars Bette Davis as the title character and is based on a true story of the era, that of Charles “Lucky” Luciano and his conviction by NY prosecutor Tom Dewey. Of course, the names were changed to protect the guilty but the movie was well done and was actually released not long after Luciano’s 1936 conviction for pandering, or, in more familiar terms, running brothels. Luciano served in the NYS prison system until he was later deported following WWII.
The actual movie follows Bette Davis who is one of the “hostesses” in Mr Vanning’s (Eduardo Cianelli) “nightclub,” both changed to make the idea acceptable to censors. There is enough snappy dialog to get the idea that more is going on than is being shown.
She, along with a half dozen peers, are hired to dance with customers and get them to drink and gamble at the tables provided by Vanning. Of course, they actually do much more but the movie conveniently skims over that part. This was during prohibition so all the drinking and partying was also illegal, making the secret nightclub understandable to those of us who didn’t live through the time.
This is one of the Warner Bros gangster movies that were made during the 1930’s and it’s just as good as any of them and lots better than 90% of what you can see currently at the movies.
Humphrey Bogart who was and up and coming actor played the Tom Dewey character that prosecuted Vanning (Luciano) for running the illegal gambling den (brothel). The incident that brought everything to a boil was Bette Davis’s sister who came back from college and got involved with the lifestyle against Davis’s wishes. Then she was unfortunately killed and found in the river which the police informed Davis. Davis confronted Vanning who beat her and cut a scar on her cheek which gave rise to the title.
After that, Davis, who had been resistant to police questioning, broke her silence and along with her “sorority sisters” gave evidence that would convict the bad guy.
All the actors did well in their parts and several later became famous, including Humphrey Bogart and Bette Davis. Here is a chance to see them early in their ascent to fame.
The movie was directed by Lloyd Bacon who also did quite a few gangster movies among his many years of journeyman directing for Warner Bros.
The Warner Bros DVD is presented in 4x3 black and white with a running time of 96 minutes. There is a discussion of the movie entitled “Ripped from the Headlines” by the usual talking heads Warner’s uses on their film commentaries, but no separate commentary; two Looney Tunes cartoons; and the film trailer as extra content making it a desirable package.
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Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Better than Watching TV