The Flower has become especially enamored of the old films, the noir, and—let us be frank—the sartorial stylings of the pre-’60s era. As such, she’s more enthusiastic about seeing a double-feature with Bette Davis (who she had seen previously only in All Above Eve) than your average 15-year-old. (And more enamored of Clark Gable, Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart than—oh, I don’t know who the girls are swooning at these days. Robert Pattinson? Is he still a thing?)
The Bette Davis double-feature was playing against a showing of Reservoir Dogs, which I did want to see, but which (as I pointed out to the kids) is likely to turn up within the year unlike, say, the 1937 soaper Marked Woman, in which Davis plays a Speakeasy “hostess” who gets mixed up in a murder case—just as the kid sister she’s putting through college shows up unannounced.
Melodrama, I suppose, but still remarkably effective 80 years later.
One interesting thing, possibly inspired by the looming specter of the Hay’s Office, is how heavily moralistic it is. Davis’ character compromises herself to help her sister get along, but the scandal destroys her sister’s chances at a socially advantageous marriage to a boy she likes—or at least the little sister perceives it as so, and that leads to a sort of nihilistic recklessness which, well, let’s say it doesn’t work out well for anyone.
Humphrey Bogart plays the hard-nosed A.D.A. who demands Davis come clean, but there’s an incipient romance there as well. The movie wisely doesn’t develop this much, but leaves it as a possible bright spot in the marked woman‘s future. And, this movie is not above making the markedness here literal.
We all actually really liked it, though it’s not a classic. It holds up better than you’d probably expect, and while it’s very much a creature of its day, it’s not something so far removed that its hard to enjoy. Director Lloyd Bacon directed nearly 100 films, including 42nd Street and Knute Rockne: All American, but this is one of his best.