Marked Woman [1937]

In the mood for a dose of unfiltered, high-octane Bette Davis? Check out Marked Woman, a bristling 1937 vehicle from her early Warners period. This one is loosely based on the Lucky Luciano saga, with maybe a few borrowings from Edna Ferber's Stage Door. Davis plays the feistiest of a group of clip-joint girls, who board together when they're not cutting a rug with clients (read: suckers) at a nightclub. Crusading district attorney Humphrey Bogart wants Davis to testify against mobster Eduardo Ciannelli, but the price would be high. Meanwhile, Bette's innocent little sister (Jane Bryan) comes to visit from college and gets more than she bargained for. The melodrama of the story is a blunt object, but you won't be able to keep your eyes off Davis, who spits and sparks like a young dragon. She's so electrically "on" that other actors sometimes look a little afraid of her. The film is true to the Warners spirit of surveying a lower tier of society, and the actresses who play the clip-joint girls have an earthy energy (Isabel Jewell is a standout). One of them is Mayo Methot, the tough-looking character actress who married Bogart shortly after the film's release. --Robert Horton

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