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Thursday, August 10, 2017

White Woman (1933)

Set in Malaya, after her husband commits suicide under mysterious circumstances, a woman (Carole Lombard) is shunned by the British community. When she resorts to singing in a "native" nightclub in order to support herself, the white community insists she be deported. She agrees to marry a plantation owner (Charles Laughton) just to escape their persecution. But when he turns out to be a sadistic madman, things grow worse. Based on the play HANGMAN'S WHIP by Norman Reilly Raine and Frank Butler and directed by Stuart Walker. This pre-code potboiler is one of those movies where the tropic nights are humid and native drums beat all night long while "forbidden" love flourishes. It all sounds more fun than it actually is. It's weird but Laughton is relatively restrained here yet he still seems to be overacting! The most interesting character is the crude plantation overseer played by Charles Bickford who still manages to be appealing. This being a pre-code, the violence (decapitations, monkeys shot to death) is a bit more in your face than other films of the 30s. With Kent Taylor, Percy Kilbride (the most sympathetic character in the film), Ethel Griffies and Marc Lawrence.  

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