Marked Woman

dir. Lloyd Bacon

TIFF Cinematheque - Hollywood Classics

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A Manhattan nightclub hostess (Bette Davis) is pressed by a crusading D.A. (Humphrey Bogart) to testify against her vicious gangster boss, in this powerful crime thriller that is widely considered to be the best of Davis' early films.
Davis stars as Mary Dwight Stauber, a Manhattan nightclub hostess terrorized by her mobster boss, in this powerful crime thriller that is widely considered the best of her early films. Pressed by a crusading D.A. (Humphrey Bogart) to testify against her vicious employer Johnny Vanning (Eduardo Ciannelli) after a young man is murdered at his Club Intime, Mary initially refuses, afraid of the retribution she has witnessed against anyone who crossed the gangster. When her reckless sister comes to visit, the film's title takes on a terrifying double meaning. In his New York Times tribute to Davis, Terrence Rafferty saw in her performance as the tough but vulnerable Mary "a kind of distillation of all the tramps, gun molls and shady dames she'd played as an eager young non-star under contract to studios that didn't know what to do with her. Her character in Marked Woman is a wonderfully complex creation, a wary survivor who's both proud of her sex appeal and slightly uncomfortable with it: not a hooker with a heart of gold, exactly, but a hooker who prefers to keep her heart as much to herself as possible."