"Nothing was right about "This Woman is Dangerous," a shoddy story,
a cliche script and no direction to speak of." ~ Joan Crawford
"This Woman is Dangerous" 1952
Cast: Joan Crawford ~Dennis Morgan~David Brian~Richard Webb~Mari Aldon~Philip Carey~Ian MacDonald~Katherine Warren~George
Chandler~William Challee~Sherry Jackson~Stuart Randall~Douglas Fowley.
Director: Felix Feist
Producer: Robert Sisk
Costumes by Shelia O'Brien
Box Office Figures for "This Woman is Dangerous":
Top Grossing Film Position: Film did not rank.
Gross Rentals: less than $1,000,000.
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Stars: Three out of five stars
Review: Contrary to popular myth, Joan Crawford looked quite attractive and sexy, as opposed to harsh or more "mannish"
in the majority of her 1950's films, as "This Woman is Dangerous" demonstrates. She was no longer the ingénue,
obviously, so her look was "mature," but her face still revealed the natural beauty she possessed of great bones,
beautiful profile and large, expressive eyes, plus she kept her trim figure throughout her career. The last film in her Warners
contract, "This Woman is Dangerous" is, by the same token, not as dire as its reputation, although evidently cheaper
in budget than its sister "gangster" film, "The Damned Don't Cry" which also featured David Brian as a
sociopath and Crawford as his unfortunate lover.
The plot concerns an elegant ex-jailbird Beth Austin (Crawford) (she was in the pen for extortion) who is the girlfriend
of a dangerous, pathologically jealous gangster, Matt Jackson (David Brian); he, along with equally unhinged and antagonistic
brother Will (Philip Carey), form a notorious band, The Jackson Brothers. Plagued by headaches, Beth is losing her sight
and has to undergo a critical eye operation in Indiana, although even her hospital stay threatens loose trigger Matt who calls
obsessively to check up on her and even hires a private detective to track her moves. It's always interesting to me when
Crawford is given "flaws" in her films ("Humoresque," "A Woman's Face") and they're intrinsically
bound with her character's fate. In this case, it's rather touching and well done when her vision is slowly restored and
she gets to see surgeon Ben Halleck (Dennis Morgan). ("I've been looking at you, Mrs. Austin," he says. "In
many ways, you've opened my eyes.") This romance is handled sensitively and puts Crawford in familiar territory, that
of being torn between two men -- what else -- and tearily willing to sacrifice her own happiness out of loyalty to her original
beau -- what else. The key question is posed by Ben: "Do you love him?" And we want these two lovely people to
redeem their pasts and find bliss with one another. But will Ben accept Beth, warts and all, when he knows the truth about
Morgan as the surgeon offering Beth and himself a second chance at life and love is extremely appealing, gentle and kind,
so I rooted for their romance, even if it was rushed and only marginally more convincing than the one between Beth and Matt.
Still, I enjoyed their dynamics and wanted more. The scenes in the hospital, although criticized for hokeyness, are actually
quite beautiful, realistic and genuinely tender. Particularly good moments include when Beth says, "I suppose it does
have its advantages, drifting in the dark. You don't have to face realities." and Ben gives her a single rose, which
she identifies by smell, the latter scene working on the appeal of the two actors alone and Crawford's ability to project
a sympathetic dimension to even the sketchiest of characters. One sees for a few minutes the jaded woman in Beth who would
like to believe but has fallen too far; one feels Crawford's own romanticism. The hope presented by this scenario -- that
an essentially good woman who has gone off the track somewhere in life can find love and be redeemed -- is one of my chief
loves of classic films, the unabashed, romantic idealism; the raw cathartic emotions.
The real monkey wrench in the production is Brian whose gangster is so brutish and relentlessly one note that it's inconceivable
why a classy, gentle-spoken woman like Beth -- extortionist or no extortionist -- would even fall for him. They go together
like oil and water with no believable chemistry, although Crawford gives everything a game try, as she always does, oozing
a lightly flirtatious charm in his direction while he always appears one step short of psychotic rage. He is given a few
powerful moments, however, such as when he throws a liquor bottle from a speeding camper's window, attracting the notice of
a highway patrol cop who he then murders in cold blood. (And Beth is interested in him for what reason?) The action culminates
in a creepy, but fascinating scene where this fanatical, brutish infant comes to the hospital operating room to murder the
surgeon as he is in the midst of an operation. This woman is not particularly dangerous, but the man definitely is.
All in all, a fairly good film with sensitive performances from Crawford and Morgan, good melodrama, and nice touches.
Like "Rain," this film is much better than Crawford or some critics ever gave it credit for. And who can resist
fabulous trailers like these:
EVERY INCH A LADY...till you look at the record!
Part of her was Ritz - part of her was "racket" - all of her was exciting! Beth Austin---stylish dame with a
stylish name---who lived by jungle law in a big city and clawed her way to where the money was...!