7.2/10
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Marked Woman (1937)

Approved | | Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller | 10 April 1937 (USA)
A crusading DA persuades a clip joint "party girl" to testify against her mobster boss after her innocent sister is accidentally murdered during one of his unsavory "parties".

Directors:

Lloyd Bacon, Michael Curtiz (uncredited)

Writers:

Robert Rossen (original screen play), Abem Finkel (original screen play)
Reviews
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Bette Davis ... Mary Dwight Strauber
Humphrey Bogart ... David Graham
Lola Lane ... Dorothy 'Gabby' Marvin
Isabel Jewell ... Emmy Lou Eagan
Rosalind Marquis ... Florrie Liggett
Mayo Methot ... Estelle Porter
Jane Bryan ... Betty Strauber
Allen Jenkins ... Louie
Eduardo Ciannelli ... Johnny Vanning
John Litel ... Gordon
Ben Welden ... Charlie Delaney
Damian O'Flynn ... Ralph Krawford
Henry O'Neill ... District Attorney Arthur Sheldon
Raymond Hatton ... Vanning's Lawyer
Carlos San Martín Carlos San Martín ... Head Waiter
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Storyline

In this roman-a-clef for the infamous Lucky Luciano Trial, Mary Dwight and four roommates work as hostesses at the Club Intime, a "clip joint" that offers gambling, liquor, and female companionship to the "big spender" clientèle. When ruthless thug and pimp Johnny Vanning takes over all the clubs in town, the girls are forced to follow Vanning's rules and kick back on their "tips" in exchange for protection. Although she is not a hardened old hand like Gabby and Estella, Mary knows enough to sidestep Vanning's amorous advances. Unfortunately the more naive Mary Lou is impressed by Vanning's oily veneer of materialism and accepts invitations to "entertain" at the gangster's private parties. Mary's naive younger sister Betty arrives from college just when Mary and her roommates are arrested as material witnesses in the murder of one of the casino's non-paying customers. Vanning's corrupt lawyer frees the others but pressures Mary to commit perjury in order to discredit crusading ... Written by duke1029

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Kind Ladies Don't Talk To! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 April 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Man Behind See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Mary Doyle (Nurse) and Jack Norton (Drunk) are in studio records as cast members but are not seen in the movie. Jack Norton is with Bette Davis in a frequently-seen still from Marked Woman; she is in a silvery dress and there is a bowl of pretzels on the bar behind her. See more »

Goofs

After the taxi ride, while standing at her front door, Ralph Krawford asks Mary Dwight Strauber for her address. See more »

Quotes

David Graham: I thought they were your friends.
Mary Dwight Strauber: So did I.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Bette Davis: Größer als das Leben (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

My Silver Dollar Man
(1937) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Sung by Rosalind Marquis
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Banned here in Australia and Finland!
1 March 2007 | by mb_cine_filmsSee all my reviews

"Marked Woman" was banned on it's original release here in Australia then abruptly withdrawn at the last moment from it's initial television screening here in 1966. Why all the fuss? Well it's because of those female leads playing "hostesses" in a "clip joint" are obviously playing prostitutes! Shock! And in a film from 1937!

This film followed hot on the heels of the sensational and newsbreaking 1936 trial of mobster Lucky Luciano who was convicted on the evidence of the prostitutes who worked for him. This was the sort of material ("torn from the headlines") that was the staple and was very much a part of the house style of 1930's Warners - gritty, hard boiled, tough stories concerning the working person facing the depression. At the end of the opening credits there is a title card disclaiming any resemblance to persons real or otherwise in the film. This was rarely if ever stated so strongly in films of this period. Warners were obviously very conscious about being seen to be not capitalizing on such a headline event so soon after - which they were!

Simple sets abound reflecting the obsession that Warners had with economy - even the nightclub is rather plain with not too many long shots to expose too much. This nightclub over at RKO would have had a distinctly chic Art Deco look as per the trademark of that studios Art Director, and the whole production is also in stark contrast to the lavish Crawford and Shearer vehicles over at MGM.

This film is late in Davis' "early period" - one which I find fascinating with it's odd mix of narrative concerning women and crime. It is also a very interesting vehicle of Humphrey Bogart still years off from the super-stardom he found from "High Sierra" in 1941. His role is very much the reflection of the censors requirement from 1934 that the law makers be glorified and not the law breakers as was very much the case and staple of pre-1934 Warners output. His speech as District Attorney in court has an abundance of force and conviction.

Other players in the film to my mind fit like a glove. Eduardo Ciannelli is suitably creepy and sleazy as the crime boss. Lola Lane, Rosalind Marquis (both giving us two nice Warren and Dubin numbers in the nightclub), Mayo Methot (soon to be Mrs Bogart in real life in what was a very stormy union) and Isabel Jewell (the perfect little gold-digger) portray with the toughness required and as the other "marked women" trapped in a life on the wrong side of the law. Costuming reflects perfectly their "class" in spite of their lucrative profession.

"Marked Woman" also closely followed the landmark court case between a very unhappy Davis (trapped in what was very much a man's studio) and Warners over the crummy scripts she was repeatedly presented in spite of her landmark performances in "Of Human Bondage" ('34) at RKO and "The Petrified Forest" ('35). After being off the screen for almost a year she lost the case and came back humbly with the studio relieved to have their "upcoming" leading female star back in action (tempramental star Kay Francis career at Warners was winding down by this stage) and eventually giving her more meaty and suitable parts like "Marked Women" with their really coming to the party in giving her "Jezebel" in 1938.

"Jezebel" was the doorway for Davis' "mature" phase for it was the director of "Jezebel" (and subsequent vehicles "The Letter" (40) and "The Little Foxes" (41)) William Wyler was able to tame her and provide much assistance in maturing her performances. Simultaneously Warners became a outfit turning out extremely polished vehicles and one of the champions of the "Womens Picture" through the 1940's.

We are very fortunate in the Australian National Film and Sound Archive having a good 16mm copy of the film which we will be screening at our film society this year. There's nothing like seeing a film like this in it's intended environment - the big screen!

Enter a suspended state of disbelief and enjoy this entertaining and gritty melodrama from Hollywood's golden age!


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