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This Woman is Dangerous
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Warners. 97 minutes.
US release: 2/28/52.
Warner Archive DVD release: 3/23/09.
Cast: Joan Crawford (as "Beth Austin"), Dennis Morgan, David Brian, Richard Webb, Mari Aldon, Philip Carey, Ian MacDonald, Katherine Warren, George Chandler, William Challee, Sherry Jackson, Stuart Randall, Douglas Fowley.
Credits: Original story, "Stab of Pain," by Bernard Girard. Screenplay: Geoffrey Homes, George Worthing Yates. Producer: Robert Sisk. Director: Felix Feist. Camera: Ted McCord. Art Director: Leo K. Kuter. Music: David Buttolph. Wardrobe: Sheila O'Brien. Editor: James C. Moore.
Plot Summary: Joan Crawford is appropriately cast as the title character in This Woman is Dangerous. Crawford plays master criminal Beth Austin, the lady friend of dangerous gangster Matt Jackson (David Brian). After being caught in the crossfire of a robbery engineered by Jackson, Beth recuperates in a hospital, hoping to keep her past a secret from the authorities. But the FBI wants Beth to lead them to Jackson, and to that end, her doctor Ben Halleck (Dennis Morgan) is strong-armed into inaugurating a romance with his gorgeous patient. Eventually, of course, Ben and Beth fall genuinely in love, thereby incurring the terrible wrath of the vengeful Jackson. And to think that Joan Crawford endures all this without a hair out of place on her lovely head! TV's future "Captain Midnight" Richard Webb co-stars as a diligent FBI agent. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
Bosley Crowther in the New York Times
February 28, 1952
When trouble comes to Joan Crawford in her motion-picture roles, it doesn't come in small doses; it comes in great big agonizing hunks. Consider "This Woman Is Dangerous," which came to the Paramount yesterday.
In this Warner Brothers' "draymer," the incredibly durable star, whose theatrical personality has now reached the ossified stage, appears as a woman criminal who has two pressing problems on her hands; one is a vilely jealous boyfriend and the other is the fact that she is going blind. A third and lesser annoyance—in the script writers' eyes, at least—is a niggling and childish matter of the law's discourtesy. Somehow, those mean old detectives keep tapping her wire and such.
However, the faltering hand of justice does not entirely descend upon this miserably tortured lady until she has undergone a critical eye operation, fallen beautifully and helplessly in love with her world-famous (also widowed) surgeon and balked her boy-friend's attempt to murder him. Then the cold hand of justice gives evidence of an exceedingly sympathetic touch. We are led to suppose that the lady and the famous surgeon will be sublimely wed just as soon as she has been down to the courthouse and explained those few robberies and things to the judge.
There is only one possible explanation, however, for such fictitious junk as this, which is willfully delivered in the name of dramatic fare. That is as pure contrivance for the display of Miss Crawford's stony charm. Those who admire the actress may be most tenderly moved by the evidence of the suffering she stolidly undergoes—the studiously clinical operations, the painful efforts to resist her surgeon's love and the femininely torturing resolution to be loyal to her criminal pal. And to these, the arrant posturing of Miss Crawford may appear the quintessence of acting art.
To these, too, the laughable performances of Dennis Morgan in the role of the internationally renowned eye surgeon and of David Brian as the jealous boy-friend may be equally convincing, since they are in the same pretentious style—all wrapped up and delivered under the direction of Felix Feist.
But for people of mild discrimination and even moderate reasonableness, the suffering of Miss Crawford will be generously matched by their own in the face of "This Woman Is Dangerous." Remember! Big, agonizing hunks!
On the stage at the Paramount are the Billy Williams Quartet, Georgia Gibbs, Buddy Lester, the Dunhills and Jerry Wald's orchestra.
Otis Guernsey in the New York Herald Tribune (1952):
Joan Crawford runs through a series of problems concerning everything from the operating table to gangsterism in a long, windy, and tiresome story....A film of many pretenses but little conviction.
If you've seen This Woman Is Dangerous and would like to share your review here, please e-mail me. Include, if you like, a picture of yourself to accompany your review, as well as a star-rating (with 5 stars the best) and any of your favorite lines from the film.
Michael Lia (February 2010)
Rating: of 5
This woman is dangerous? This woman is going blind? This woman runs a band of criminals? This woman is in love with her surgeon? This Woman is awful. This film is almost nonexistent to me even though it has a place in my DVD library.
Miss Crawford seemed to feel the same way or wished it was nonexistent. I never seem to be in the mood for this movie either. Trog at least gives you several options for entertainment value; this film has no options. It is, however, part of Hollywood history of what happened in those years and what fate and television and the studios did to our wonderful actresses. We even get to watch it happen. That would make a good film!
Goodbye. Thanks for the 18 years at MGM and thanks for the seven years at . Hollywood and the studio system are forever changed. Miss Crawford is now a freelance actress after this bomb! Her situation is great. It is wonderful and it is scary, just like this movie.
I mean, did it have to be blindness that she is afflicted with? Why not just get a check-up and she falls for the Doctor…ugh... what an awful script, and shame on for even attempting to put this film over. Which he did not! I cannot blame Miss Crawford entirely, but it is like selling old brownies at a bake sale -- not appetizing at all. But you do what you can and hope people won’t notice.
Many things or even a few small changes could have helped the script. In my opinion, there are three good scenes. The writers actually put something from every single one of Miss Crawford’s past films and several of Miss Bette Davis’s. Alas, with no feeling whatsoever.
Some casting changes might have benefited the overall look. Not a chance of that happening. I would have loved to have seen in there somewhere -- why not? There is nothing that can make the film and Miss Crawford credible and interesting. It is truly the theatre symbol of comedy and tragedy.
Miss Crawford was a professional, Miss Crawford was an actress, but most of all Miss Crawford was a survivor. Not many actresses survived after 1949, and I can list them all. The actresses that did made wholly unmemorable films boring and bad. Some had to go to television or the stage, and they did get a new lease on their careers. Some we would never see again. We would never see Hollywood again either. The fun in filmmaking was gone and that meant the love was gone.
Miss Crawford was faced with a deep, steep challenge. She was loyal and persevered, but things were changing very rapidly so that loyalty and talent did not matter…especially if you were a woman. True, she was also maintaining a glamorous lifestyle and raising a family and aging, so she took the job. She was still anti-television. (Jack Warner once called T.V. "the furniture that stares back”!) She was aware of the surmounting odds and some of the mistakes she made. Miss Crawford had to fight -- it was a basic instinct and reflex in her metabolism. She also was spiritual enough inside and took every opportunity to keep growing. Miss Crawford was a human being.
It takes a lot of guts to quit your job for something better and walk into the unknown. We have to thank the cinema gods for giving Miss Crawford filmed and released the same year as this wretched film.
Miss Crawford should actually be awarded for this film because she has done what not many actresses could do today! She did not quit but faced the challenges and expanded her career with co-producing her films. I applaud her. Unfortunately, the downward spiral was already happening. Miss Crawford managed to hold things up for a while, but in reality she is going down from here on out, along with everyone else and my Hollywood.
The original poor souls that went to see this film should get their money back. This film is good only when you are asleep or on crack.
John Linville (May 2007)
I watched This Woman is Dangerous last night...and found it grandly entertaining, in an Ed Wood sort of way; before you scoff, let me clarify that the movie was certainly well made, with its share of gloss. However, the psychology of the filmmakers was akin to a twelve year old who gleefully takes his art very seriously. The result is an earnest yet often loopy film noir thriller, high on the giggle meter; nevertheless it reveals unexpected flashes of talent from its director, Felix Feist. Great tracking shots abound (he seems to have a fascination with cars) and Feist achieves an effective murky atmosphere as our troubled Joan escapes into a black world via her eye surgery (post-surgery, she sports some hilarious google-eyed glasses that make her resemble a wasp woman).
That cigarette moment outside the women's prison is brilliant; the best thing in the picture. And, as in her other '50s films, Joan's male co-stars, no matter what age, just can't seem to resist that indefinable magnetism of La Crawford (who appears to be, and was, around 50), and constantly gush about her. The doctor who romances her appears to be about twenty years younger, and his coming on to her is one of several comic highlights. Not that it was bad; the script was intelligent, and my attention never flagged. Certainly not worthy of its infamous reputation, and more entertaining than some of the boring MGM fluff JC made in the '30s.
I loved Joan's performance in this; her look and acting was very Sudden Fear. Despite her criminal past, one has compassion for her. David Brian was quite good as her paranoid, jealous boyfriend (one of many, we learn), and his murder of the private eye near the end isgenuinely jolting and chilling.
TWID is great fun.
Jon Denson (November 2005)
Forgotten Crawford Noir
Here is a rare gem, which hasn't seen the light of day as a VHS or
DVD release to date. It has appeared on cable (AMC) very rarely, and
not for a few years, but precious recorded copies are available. When I
saw the film on TV about four years ago, the print was remarkably
excellent and free of age-related artifacts. The film has held up well,
but prints are scarce.
This Woman is Dangerous is worth seeking out for a number of
reasons. It was Joan Crawford's last film at Warner's, and she
absolutely loathed it. However, contrary to reviewers of the past and
Crawford's own opinion, the film is quite good. The plot concerns a
lady gangster Beth (Crawford) and her boyfriend (David Brian) who is
heading downward in a life of crime. As it happens, she is in need of a
special eye surgery to restore her sight (as it plays in the film, it
is very convincing and good--not contrived as many reviewers have
She goes to Chicago to have the operation, and hide out from
the rather possessive Brian, and the doctor (Dennis Morgan) shows her
that there are other alternatives to a life of crime. They slowly fall
in love as she regains her sight, but she is presented with a problem
when Brian wants to re-enter her life and the doctor is confronted with
her true identity. Will he accept her and help her start over, or will
he reject her because of her past? You will have to watch the very
engrossing melodrama, This Woman is Dangerous, to find out.
Stylistically, the film most resembles Crawford's earlier
film, The Damned Don't Cry. Both films have similar themes and noir
photography. The score is also lovely. The film is a beautifully-made,
rather glossy WB noir. Joan Crawford looks very attractive throughout
the film, as she always did in the early '50s when her characteristic
look reached its peak (the shoulder pads, the ankle strap shoes, the
big mouth and eyes). Her performance is sensitive and
heartfelt--certainly one of her most memorable. David Brian's
performance is the weak link in the film, but Dennis Morgan is
excellent as the doctor.
This Woman is Dangerous is a solid film noir, undeserving of its "potboiler" reputation.
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