Ladies They Talk About (1933)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama, Prison Film  |   Release Date - Feb 4, 1933 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 68 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

The women in prison genre reached its peak in the 1950s, but the progenitor of those films can be found in 1933's Ladies They Talk About. Based on a play by actress Dorothy Mackaye, which in turn was loosely based on her actual experiences in a women's prison, Ladies is sheer delight for lovers of hard-boiled dames slinging snappy phrases around like so much hash. As is often the case with films in this genre, the plot has a number of credibility gaps; most of them are passable and add to the general enjoyment, but the final one - in which the heroine shoots and wounds the man she hates, only to immediately declare her love for him, after which he tells the cops that it's nothing and he plans to marry her - does take the cake. The soft country club conditions of the women's prison, which includes dorm-style rooms with lace curtains, is also a bit hard to take. But it doesn't matter, for Ladies has the one and only Barbara Stanwyck on hand to add her special magic to the salty dialogue and to make one happy to overlook any problems with the screenplay. Add in a good supporting cast that includes Lillian Roth warbling a song to a picture of Joe E. Brown, and you have a picture that may not be great but is definitely entertaining.