Woman Condemned (1933)

Genres - Mystery  |   Sub-Genres - Detective Film  |   Release Date - Apr 4, 1934 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 58 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Slow moving, overly complicated, and badly acted in key roles, this low-budget melodrama from Poverty Row company Progressive Pictures was directed by silent screen actress Dorothy Davenport, the widow of the late matinee idol Wallace Reid. A girl detective, Barbara Hammond (Claudia Dell) is found with the corpse of the woman she has been investigating, radio singer Jane Merrick (Lola Lane). Barbara is arrested for the murder and her reporter husband, Jerry Beal (Richard Hemingway), sets out to find the real killer. The trail leads to a mysterious sanatorium where Dr. Wagner (Mischa Auer) is about to operate on a woman who bears a striking resemblance to Jane Merrick. Jerry is captured by Wagner's henchmen and threatened with a brain transplant. Happily, Jane's maid (Louise Beavers) intervenes by calling the authorities. Dr. Wagner explains that his patient is indeed Jane Merrick and that her operation was to remove an unsightly birthmark. At police headquarters, meanwhile, Barbara breaks down and confesses to Jane's murder in the presence of a handsome gangster named Dapper Dan (Paul Ellis). Suddenly the dead woman's "ghost" appears and a frightened Dan confesses to having killed Jane's twin sister by mistake after Jane had dumped him. Whereas veteran performers such as the always delightful Beavers, Jason Robards (as Jane's station manager), Mischa Auer (whose last name was misspelled "Aver" in the onscreen credits), and Lola Lane managed to rise above the material, comparative newcomers Claudia Dell, Paul Ellis, and Richard Hemingway were not quite so fortunate. In fact, Hemingway, who also appeared in Dorothy Reid's Road to Ruin (1934), was playing bit parts by 1935.

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Keywords

detective, false-accusation, gangster, ghost, murder, reporter