It's a man's world. And Ethel Whitehead learns there's only one way for a woman to survive in it: be as tempting as a cupcake and as tough as a 75-cent steak. In the first of three collaborations with director Vincent Sherman Joan Crawford brings hard-boiled glamour and simmering passion to the role of Ethel who moves from the wrong side of the tracks to a mobster's mansion to high society one man at a time. Some of those men love her. Some use her. And one a high-rolling racketeer abuses her. When the racketeer murders his rival in Ethel's swanky living room she flees a sure murder rap right back to the poverty she thought she had escaped. And this time there may not be a man to pick up the pieces of her shattered life.Running Time: 103 min.Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: DRAMA UPC: 012569683648
Joan Crawford bashes her way through this melodrama inspired by the Bugsy Siegel-Virginia Hill story. Our girl walks out of tacky poverty at the beginning and re-shapes herself into a fur-lined mobster's moll, her will of steel out-pointing the men at every stop. David Brian (recently her Flamingo Road
co-star) is the looming blond monster who runs the organization, Steve Cochran is the Bugsy guy building his own network in Nevada, and Kent Smith is the meek accountant Joan bullies into becoming a syndicate player. It's all from that mid-career post-Mildred Pierce
period that served Crawford so well, with the full-on film noir look (Ted McCord photographed) and the strong whiff of American sleaze.
Joan Crawford's face had assumed its masklike quality at this point, and at times she seems more of a business manager than an actress: organizing each scene, pushing the story along to its next stop. In its own over-the-top way, it works: there isn't a moment when she doesn't seem capable of devouring anybody that stands in her way. Everything is writ large in this movie, which makes it a fitting target for a Carol Burnett send-up... and which also makes it a great deal of fun. --Robert Horton