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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Thirteen Women (1932)

A young Eurasian girl (Myrna Loy) tries to assimilate into an exclusive Caucasian all girls finishing school. But her attempts are rebuffed by the racist girls because of her bi-racial heritage. Years later, as an adult, she gets her revenge as she plots each girls' death. An early pre-code effort from the producer David O. Selznick, this brief (it's about an hour long) psychological thriller moves along at a galloping pace under the direction of George Archainbaud. As cinema, it's more a curiosity than anything else. The film itself seems ambivalent toward Loy's character. On one hand, it acknowledges the racism that humiliated her and sent her towards her murderous path. Yet on the other hand, the police detective (Ricardo Cortez) on the case contemptuously dismisses her as a "half breed type" and none of the other women seem particularly apologetic for their past racist behavior toward her. Based on the novel by Tiffany Thayers. The film stars Irene Dunne but the supporting cast includes Kay Johnson plus two famous wives Florence Eldridge (Mrs. Fredric March) and Jill Esmond (at the time Mrs. Laurence Olivier) as well as the infamous Peg Entwistle (whose only film this is), best known for committing suicide by jumping off the Hollywood sign.

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