Sunday, August 11, 2013

Baby Face (1933)

Director: Alfred E. Green

Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent, Donald Cook, Alphonse Ethier, Henry Kolker, Margaret Lindsay, Arthur Hohl, John Wayne, Robert Barrat, Douglass Dumbrille, Theresa Harris

Tagline: She climbed the ladder of success - wrong by wrong!

Plot: Lily Powers has to do more than serve drinks at her father's run-down speakeasy in a small industrial town, but his death gives her the chance to move on to New York. With her experience in using her looks to get on she is soon on her way to the top, cynically stepping over men as she no longer needs them.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

Man, oh, man can Barbara Stanwyck play a conniving slut!  For 1933, this is one sleazy picture.  She essentially sleeps her way into getting everything she wants until she finally meets her match. Once that happens the tone shifts a bit.  Naturally she grows as a character but her journey is loads of fun.  I really dig this picture.  Stanwyck is great and you even get to see a brief, early role for John Wayne.

The ending pissed me off like you wouldn't believe.  No spoilers here but the picture should have ended in the ambulance.  Then out of nowhere there's this tacked on happy ending that hits you upside the head like a shovel.  It's insulting.  Then I started reading about the picture as I usually do after watching a film and I discovered that there is a longer, original cut that surfaced a few years ago that makes the picture even better.  I'm going to get my hands on that one and hope that tacked on ending was part of the hatchet job the studio forced on the director.  Even still, the edited version I saw was a lot of fun and worth seeing.

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