NEW ON DVDAll Night LongInterview With A Murderer Day Of The Jackal, TheHousesitterHacksaw RidgePawnoAuthor: The JT LeRoy StoryMahanaLight Between Oceans, The Cafe SocietyGirl On The Train, The Captain FantasticDavid Brent: Life On The RoadSing Street EqualsElvis & Nixon Where To Invade Next
Directed by Alfred E. Green
Running time 78 minutes
Although Bette Davis won an Oscar for her performance as alcoholic, self-destructive stage actress, Joyce Heath, it was generally regarded at the time (including by Davis herself) that it was a consolation prize for being passed over the previous year with her performance in Of Human Bondage. Whilst characteristically arrogant, sharp-tongued and histrionic she makes for an unlikely femme fatale who sweeps wealthy architect Don Bellows (Franchot Tone) off his feet in a spiral of infatuation. More seriously, the melodramatic script inspired by stage legend Jeanne Eagels, who became a drug addict and died at the age of 35 is often very stagy requiring the actors to enunciate laboriously exchanges. Whilst Tone is typically bland, the less said about John Eldredge, who turns up late in the film as Joyce closet skeleton, the better. As much as the film waxes and wane in effectiveness and production wise the film is quite musty, director Green having his roots in the silent era, Davis is good enough and the key theme of the troubled artist is well-enough explored to make this worth watching.
FYI: The film was remade with even lesser yield in a heavily-disguised form in 1941 as Singapore Woman. More infamously, Davis and Tone had an affair during its making although he was engaged at the time to Joan Crawford, whom he subsequently married, and this is credited as the source of the actress’s lifelong hostility.