This Woman is Dangerous (1952)

“Never mind how much you’d give, how much would you take?”

This Woman is Dangerous stars Joan Crawford as Beth Austin, member of the notorious Jackson Gang and girlfriend to brutal gangster Matt Jackson (David Brian). When the film begins, Beth, who’s experiencing blinding headaches, is told she will lose her sight unless she undergoes a dangerous experimental operation at the Halleck Clinic in Indiana.

After pulling off a bold robbery at a gambling den, Beth heads off to Indiana for surgery, while the rest of the gang–brothers Matt and Will (Philip Carey) and Will’s wife, Ann (Mari Aldon) remain behind. Beth is the cool head and brains of the operation, and when she leaves, she admonishes her jealous volatile boyfriend to keep a low profile.

While Beth undergoes the long ordeal of surgery and recovery, Matt goes ballistic stuck in a trailer waiting for news. Meanwhile Beth falls in love with her handsome, compassionate Doctor (Dennis Morgan) and this has violent repercussions.

This Woman is Dangerous was the last film Joan Crawford made for Warner Bros. Studios, and it was a film Joan loathed. The film’s main problem is its portrayal of Beth. The plot unfortunately only alludes to Beth’s dark past, and so Beth appears as a wealthy socialite (complete with mink stole) who’s done a little slumming with gangsters. While the persona of wealthy society dame is necessary for the robberies conducted by the Jackson gang, we never see beyond this portrayal. Beth is a complicated character, but the film chooses to portray her rather simply. There should be two sides to Beth–the woman who wants home and hearth, and gun moll Beth, but here she’s 100% genteel–desperate for respectability and domesticity. Just look at the eagerness with which she ties on that apron. Scenes at a women’s prison hint at a tough past and experiences that continue to haunt Beth. While with some tough dames, the soft mushy past is all but forgotten, with Beth the tough veneer is brittle and the softhearted tender woman is visible underneath. This leaves a main character who’s not quite damsel in distress but not quite believable as a tough gun moll either. And since Beth is supposed to be a bit of both, the film loses its edge of dark crime and Beth is seen more as a woman who’s been hanging out with the wrong crowd who then becomes an accidental criminal. From director Felix E Feist.

Some great lines:
Never mind how much you’d give, how much would you take?
Put on your trunks and jump in the lake.
My terms are a lot different for a good-looking woman than for a jealous man.

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Filed under Crime, Joan Crawford

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