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USA 1941
Directed by
George Cukor
105 minutes
Rated PG


2.5 stars

Woman's Face, A

A Woman’s Face is not as good as it title might suggest. Joan Crawford provides the face which is disfigured for half the film before Melvyn Douglas’s plastic surgeon transforms her into a looker. A remake of the 1938 Swedish film of the same name that starred Ingrid Bergman, it's based on a French play, Il Etait Une Fois by Francis De Croisset, here adapted by Donald Ogden Stewart and Elliot Paul.

Although Crawford’s performance is often cited as one of her better ones, the main thing it has going for it is that it is against type, something which always appeals to American audiences as indicative of acting prowess (Crawford credited this film as setting her on the path to her 1945 Oscar for Oscar for Mildred Pierce). Despite Cukor’s classy direction, however, the film is too mustily melodramatic to sustain much in the way of dramatic credibility.  Quite the opposite in fact. In this respect the best element is Conrad Veidt’s arch villain, a delusionally Nietschean figure who is the polar opposite of Melvyn Douglas’s avuncular male, the two representing the alpha and omega of Anna’s journey to the light side. BH

 

 

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