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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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Amazon.ca

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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Most helpful customer reviews
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Marked Woman: Melodrama at its Best July 3 2002
Format:VHS Tape
No one will ever accuse MARKED WOMAN of being a great movie, but it still can be a great movie melodrama. Hollywood of the mid 1930s was churning out one potboiler after another, and this movie has the accompanying characteristics. Yet,what places MARKED WOMAN far above its contemporary competition is the terrific acting of Bette Davis ably backed up by Humphrey Bogart and a quartet of extraordinarily convincing female seconds. Bette plays Mary, a 'hostess' for a clip joint run by the gangster Vanning, snarlingly played by Eduardo Ciannelli. Her job is to entertain customers to the point that they drop all their money at the crooked gambling tables. For a while, Mary is content to do this until her sister Bette, played by the ultra-sweet Jane Bryan, gets unintentionally involved in the rackets. Bette is killed, Mary is deliberately disfigured to convince her to keep silent, and Bogie enters as a racket-busting DA who needs Mary's testimony to nail Vanning. If all this sounds like countless other films of the decade, then surely it is so, but the interaction between Bette Davis, her kid sister Jane Bryan, the snappy dialogue bouncing back and forth between the other hostesses, Mayo Methot, Isabel Jewel, and Lola Lane, combine to make the viewer forget that this is only a potboiler and instead focus on what they are really seeing, a movie that makes you care about what happens to the characters. This, then, is the magic of all good films, potboilers or otherwise.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars "Marked Woman (1937) ... Bette Davis ... Lloyd Bacon (Director)...
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... Read more
Published on March 19 2011 by J. Lovins
4.0 out of 5 stars Hostesses Fight Back
Bette Davis stars as a nightclub "hostess" who gets mixed up with brutal crime boss Eduardo Ciannelli, an association that leads to tragedy for Davis. Read more
Published on May 3 2002 by James L.
5.0 out of 5 stars NOBODY IS AS BAD AS BETTE WHEN SHE'S GOOD
That is what one movie poster gushed about the one and only Bette Davis, and this one have Ms. Davis in all her firecracker glory in spades. Read more
Published on Oct. 23 2000 by Kendrik Lau
4.0 out of 5 stars A VICTORY FOR DAVIS
In 1936, Bette Davis fled to England in a vain attempt to break away from her Warners contract (she was disillusioned and angrily frustrated at the trashy scripts she had been... Read more
Published on May 17 2000 by "scotsladdie"
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Crime Drama
This is a very interesting picture for Bogart fans. His soon-to-be 3rd wife, Mayo Methot, is one of the five "hostesses" featured in this movie, who will bring down... Read more
Published on Jan. 10 2000 by JAMES J CREMIN
5.0 out of 5 stars Davis at her best
"Marked Woman" was one of the finest examples of Warner Brothers' 1930s gangster films. The movie is violent, lonely and sentimental without being saccharin. Read more
Published on July 6 1999
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