This costume drama hasn’t much in the way of strong entertainment. It’s a period piece, laid in early New Orleans, that makes much to-do about bloodlines and first family snobbery, with a few s.a. tidbits thrown in for exploitation.
Ava Gardner physically lives up to title implications, but her role is obvious and never socks enough to be believable. Robert Mitchum, as a young medical professor whom she wants, is required only to deliver a wooden performance, but his personality does give it some lift.
A romance between Barbara (Gardner) and Mark (Mitchum) is broken up by the former’s cousin, Paul (Melvyn Douglas). Mitchum, on the rebound, marries Corrine (Janis Carter).
The script, based on Leopold Atlas’ adaptation of Polan Banks’ novel Carriage, has Barbara suddenly become the heir to a fortune left by the bad ancestor. She uses her money to bribe Paul to break up Mark’s marriage.
Douglas’ character has a Desperate Desmond quality, so overstated as to be ludicrous. Carter does what is demanded of her character, and Lucile Watson is Gardner’s stuffy aunt who rules the family with an iron hand. On the technical side, the picture has been well-dressed.