A Woman’s Face (1941)

Article #853 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-16-2003
Posting Date: 12-13-2003
Directed by George Cukor
Featuring Joan Crawford, Melvyn Douglas, Conrad Veidt

A bitter woman with a scarred face turns to crime, and then gets an opportunity to undergo plastic surgery to restore her looks.

Title check: Why not just call it JOAN CRAWFORD’S FACE? She has so many close ups, it would be an apt title; it might also inspire Kim Carnes to come up with a companion song to BETTE DAVIS EYES.

If you’ve followed some of my MOTDs up to this point, you probably know that I’m not a particular fan of Joan Crawford. For all of her star quality, I’ve never really cared for any of her characters; they never quite make that jump to convincing me they’re real people rather than personas put on by the actress. This movie only touches marginally on the horror genre by skirting the same ground as any number of Lon Chaney movies (with whom she worked in THE UNKNOWN) or in Peter Lorre’s FACE BEHIND THE MASK; the fact that she is a scarred criminal at the beginning of the movie is the only real horror element. The movie is in thrall with her; if I were, I’d like it more than I do. As it is, I mostly just enjoy the moments when the movie gets away from her long enough for me to notice that George Zucco is on hand as the nice attorney, Henry Daniell as the mean one (he seemed to specialize in mean SOBs, didn’t he?). At heart, I enjoyed watching Marjorie Main (who is also on hand) more than I do Crawford, and I quite like how Conrad Veidt has a nice mad speech that manages to pull the focus from Crawford even while he shares the screen with her in one scene; it was nice to see the camera pay attention to someone else for a change.


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