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The Lady Refuses

The Lady Refuses(1931)

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The Lady Refuses (1931)

Betty Compson had lots of screen appeal, but its flavor was hard to pin down. She was neither an ingenue nor a maneater, neither high-class nor common, was unwilting without being tough, and her animal sensuality sparkled with a savvy intelligence. Her elusive je ne sais quoi may be why she's forgotten today amidst a pantheon of more distillable actors, but it's what animates the hard-to-swallow plot of The Lady Refuses (1931): A British nobleman (Gilbert Emery) takes in a streetwalker (Compson) who lands on his doorstep and engages her to woo his ne'er-do-well son (John Darrow) away from his golddigger fiancee (Margaret Livingston, most famous as the vampy "Woman From The City" in Sunrise: A Tale Of Two Humans (1927)). Seeing Compson in action, it's easy to understand why both father and son fall for the fallen woman -- or why one smitten Photoplay reviewer raved: "I have never seen a creature more gloriously physical."

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