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Thursday, October 21, 2010

THIS WOMAN IS DANGEROUS (1952)

Even the title sounds generic on this one. That may have been the idea since Warner Bros. was winding up contracts for co-stars Joan Crawford & Dennis Morgan, as well the producer & director, with this low-key entry that’s similar to Crawford’s M-G-M hit, A WOMAN’S FACE/’41. (Itself a remake of a 1938 Ingrid Bergman pic.) Joan repeats as the toughened leader of a criminal gang who finds love & redemption with a doctor whose operation changes her life. The gimmick this time has Joan going blind, and the time spent taking care of her failing eye-sight makes her partner-in-crime psychotically jealous of the good Doctor. Of course, even psychos can sometimes be right! It’s not a bad little film, and it’s gorgeously shot by Ted McCord, but it keeps Joan emotionally reined in which is a mixed blessing. It stops her from the volcanic emoting (those dark shades really cut down on eyeball rolling), but it also points up how empty she was as an actress when she couldn’t play the extremes. As the heavy, David Brian is remarkably nasty for the period while poor Dennis Morgan looks all used up as the upstanding doctor. Sad, he’s an underrated performer.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Joan Crawford had the last laugh when she left the lot and made a smash indie thriller, SUDDEN FEAR, that same year. It even got her a well-deserved Oscar nom. and is ripe for a remake.

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