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Marked Woman

Bette Davis , Humphrey Bogart , Friz Freleng , Lloyd Bacon    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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In the mood for a dose of unfiltered, high-octane Bette Davis? Check out Marked Woman, a bristling 1937 vehicle from her early Warners period. This one is loosely based on the Lucky Luciano saga, with maybe a few borrowings from Edna Ferber's Stage Door. Davis plays the feistiest of a group of clip-joint girls, who board together when they're not cutting a rug with clients (read: suckers) at a nightclub. Crusading district attorney Humphrey Bogart wants Davis to testify against mobster Eduardo Ciannelli, but the price would be high. Meanwhile, Bette's innocent little sister (Jane Bryan) comes to visit from college and gets more than she bargained for. The melodrama of the story is a blunt object, but you won't be able to keep your eyes off Davis, who spits and sparks like a young dragon. She's so electrically "on" that other actors sometimes look a little afraid of her. The film is true to the Warners spirit of surveying a lower tier of society, and the actresses who play the clip-joint girls have an earthy energy (Isabel Jewell is a standout). One of them is Mayo Methot, the tough-looking character actress who married Bogart shortly after the film's release. --Robert Horton

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By J. Lovins TOP 50 REVIEWER
Warner Bros. Pictures presents "MARKED WOMAN" (1937) (96 min/B&W) -- Starring Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Lola Lane, Isabel Jewell, Eduardo Ciannelli, Rosalind Marquis, Mayo Methot & Jane Bryan, .

Directed by Lloyd Bacon

Lloyd Bacon directed this tough, fast-paced film about "hostesses" in a nightclub run by a ruthless gangster. Star Bette Davis shines in the leading role, but it's cobra-like Eduardo Ciannelli who steals the film as the crime kingpin. A sleek, urbane actor, Ciannelli was a doctor before turning to the stage. He made his film debut in the previous year's Winterset, and would go along to become a top movie villain for the next several decades. Ciannelli had about him an air of refined cruelty that made him compelling to watch. Unlike Davis, his is a name that never became well-known.

Dedicated to realism, Bette Davis left the set when the makeup department outfitted her with dainty bandages for the hospital scene following the physical attack on her character by mobsters. She drove to her own doctor and instructed him to bandage her as he would a badly beaten woman. Returning to the set, she declared, "You shoot me this way, or not at all!" They did.

This film also shows wonderful examples of the Art Deco style in the Club Intime nightclub sequences. The design is lustrous. Hollywood Deco always signified glamor, modernity, and sexual liberation.

This film also has an up-and-coming actor by the name of Humphrey Bogart along with his soon-to-be-real-life-wife Mayo Methot. Get a load of some of the other female names in the cast: Lola Lane, Isabel Jewell and Rosalind Marquis - all "marked" women!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good girls gone bad get done May 31 2004
Format:VHS Tape
Eduardo Ciannelli gives an wonderful, controlled performance as the gangster heavy, Vanning in "Marked Woman". His studied calm nicely offsets the histrionics of the hostesses in his employment. Betty Davis, naturally, is given the most screen time reacting hysterically to her myriad sorrows and complaints. The rest of the girls just stand around mostly like mannikins in stolen designer dresses. One of them actually sings for her supper at Club Intimate. These songs prompted me to suggest a name change: Club Irritate. The music is fluff, filler--that doesn't do anything to move the story along.

Overall, the story is quite predictable in some parts. What makes the film work is the brilliant dialogue and the unobtrusive direction. The actors are allowed to speak. The result is nonstop clever banter that never gets too serious until the end. The courtroom scene gets pretty heavy--particularly when the sentence is handed down to Vanning and his henchmen. The "message" of the film is clearly expressed by the judge during sentencing. His venomous hatred towards Vanning is made entirely too explicit.
The film presents a low opinion of the entire underground milieu. A clear distinction is made between the 5 hostesses and Mary Dwights tender, mopey sister Betty. Betty is esentially void from the moment she arrives to surprise her sister. Typically, the prey is introduced as innocent and sweet before her inevitable fate is sealed. In this case, it is the terrible realization that her college education has been payed for with dirty money that drives her to act out of character (like her sister). Naturally, it is this behaviour that gets the poor stupid girl killed. The rest of the film is built around absolving the death of this pure, guileless creature.
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5.0 out of 5 stars TOP NOTCH DAVIS.... Sept. 15 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart were a rugged team in this 1938 pot-boiler that stands above the crime melodramas of the period because the central characters are women caught in a web of evil due to their virtual enslavement to a ruthless gangster. Supposedly based on true crime files, the girls were supposed to be prostitutes but censorship demanded the term "clip-joint hostess"!!! The cast is excellent but Davis shines as Mary the central figure whose little sister winds up being killed by the gangster boss. Mary wages a battle but pays a dear price for her efforts (see the movie) and she and her co-workers (the other "girls") end up walking away into the fog with an uncertain future forever scarred by their experiences. This film demands DVD treatment. It is unforgettable once seen and a classic reminder of what movie-going once was long ago. I strongly recommend it to Davis and Bogie buffs but also to classic 30's crime fans. It's beautifully made and surprisingly tough for the period ( despite the stupid censorship regulations). Check it out....
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4.0 out of 5 stars ABOVE AVERAGE 30'S GANGSTER FLICK. Aug. 1 2002
Format:VHS Tape
This was Bette Davis's first film after being suspended by Warner Brothers whereafter she fled to England, There was a sensational London trial. Davis was ordered by the judge to honor her contract and she returned to Los Angeles. Warner Brothers actually paid her legal fees and gave her the prime role of a nightclub B-girl (in those days they had to call them "hostesses") in this film based on New York's Lucky Luciano and his gang. Perhaps she was glad to get back to work as well, for, although a bit too overdone to my taste, she does give a firecracker of a performance. Ms. Davis in this film, or any other for that matter, is never dull.
Her sister, played by Jane Bryan (she was still a teenager and this was her second film: she was later to marry the industrialist Justin Dart), comes to the Big Apple and unwittingly gets herself involved with the Big Boss (played by Eduardo Cianelli to the hilt) with tragic results. The hostesses at this point are all marked women and they know it. What results is a dramatic courtroom trial with Humphrey Bogart in a dynamic performance as a crusading district attorney. Mayo Methot (his soon-to-be third wife; they were both awaiting the finalization of their divorces during the filming, Bogart from Mary Philips, his wife of nine years, and Methot from Percy T. Morgan, co-owner of a popular Sunset Boulevard restaurant) plays Estelle Porter, one of the hostesses, impressively, although she found little film work after that and did not live up to her promising youthful New York stage appearances. Bogart himself thought she was a very talented actress.
The action is swift, the lines are curt and often witty, and there is pathos in the ending as one really grows to care for these lost and seemingly hopeless women. Bogart offers to try to help Davis on to a new road. Perhaps she will. Perhaps she won't. To the film's credit, we are left wondering.
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