Review: ‘A Woman’s Face’

There's a rather intriguing dramatic quality to this American version of an original Swedish production (from a French play, Francis de Croisset's Il etait une fois) which had Ingrid Bergman as star. In a story of a woman's handicap and final regeneration.

There’s a rather intriguing dramatic quality to this American version of an original Swedish production (from a French play, Francis de Croisset’s Il etait une fois) which had Ingrid Bergman as star. In a story of a woman’s handicap and final regeneration.

Opening with the court trial of Joan Crawford for murder, the story is developed through various stages by testimony of the several witnesses – and finally the defendant herself. Dramatic suspense is maintained by keeping the victim’s identity well hidden for a surprise climax.

Crawford is the victim of a childhood accident which left her face distorted and disfigured. Case-hardened and calloused, shunning people generally, she drops into a criminal career. Romantic approach of Conrad Veidt is the first she has had and she accepts his flattery with love-hungry adoration.

She meets plastic surgeon Melvyn Douglas whose offer of an operation is gladly accepted. Veidt then persuades her to take a job as governess on his uncle’s estate – and to murder the child-heir that stands in his path to wealth inheritance.

Crawford has a strongly dramatic and sympathetic role, despite her hardened attitude, which she handles in topnotch fashion.

A Woman's Face

Production

M-G-M. Director George Cukor; Producer Victor Saville; Screenplay Donald Ogden Stewart, Elliot Paul; Camera Robert Planck; Editor Frank Sullivan; Music Bronislau Kaper; Art Director Cedric Gibbons, Wade B. Rubottom

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1941. Running time: 105 MIN.

With

Joan Crawford Melvyn Douglas Conrad Veidt Osa Massen Reginald Owen Albert Bassermann
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