Cast & Crew
While in New Orleans to mastermind a gambling house heist, Beth Austin learns from an oculist that she must undergo an operation or go blind, but she decides to keep the news to herself and proceeds with the robbery. Posing as a wealthy gambler, Beth has the manager open the safe just as Matt Jackson, her lover and partner, arrives with men impersonating state troopers to raid the casino and confiscate the money. The next day, Beth tells Matt, who is insanely jealous, that she is going to an eye surgery specialist near Indianapolis for the operation and begs him to lay low until she returns. After checking in at the hospital, Beth meets the specialist, Dr. Ben Halleck, and prepares for the experimental surgery. In New Orleans, meanwhile, the manager of the gambling house reports the robbery to the police and expresses his suspicions about Beth. After Franklin, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, traces Beth to the hospital, he learns through Beth's fingerprints, which he obtains with the help of a nurse, that she served a prison sentence for embezzlement several years before. Meanwhile, Matt disregards Beth's instructions and tries to call her at the hospital, then becomes frustrated when she is too incapacitated to answer. As he and his brother Will return to their Virginia cabin in a trailer that Will's wife Ann is driving, Will taunts Matt about Beth's absence. In a fit of rage, Matt throws a bottle of whiskey out of the moving vehicle, then impulsively shoots a state trooper who stops them. The Jacksons ditch the trailer, and later, when the trailer is found, the brothers are connected to the murder. Beth's fingerprints then are found in the trailer and tie them to the robbery. Hoping that Beth will lead them to the Jacksons, Franklin puts her on surveillance. Ben comes to admire her courage during Beth's two weeks of convalescence, and Beth, too, is becoming attracted to the doctor. Matt, still frustrated by his fruitless attempts to talk to Beth, hires a private detective to find out if she is seeing another man. Later, Beth is released from the hospital, but remains in the area for post-operative testing. Ben asks her for a date, but when an emergency keeps him from meeting her, Joe Crossland, the investigator hired by Matt, approaches her directly, warning her about his jealous client. She informs him that her phones are tapped, and suspecting that someone is trying to get to Matt through her, she plans to use Ben to disappear from the area. Later, she manipulates Ben into agreeing to drive her to Indianapolis, where she plans to sneak away, but Ben gets an emergency call and has to stop at the state women's prison. As Beth waits in the car, Ben tends his patient, who dies. Depressed, Ben and Beth abandon their plans for the city, and go to his house, where she meets his nine-year-old daughter Susan. Ben, whose wife abandoned him years before, asks Beth to stay, but tearfully Beth tells him that she must leave the next day. In the morning, Ben shows up at her hotel room to invite her to accompany him on a house call in the country, hoping they can sort out their feelings. After Ben leaves, the eavesdropping Crossland shows up and, after making a pass at Beth, offers to double-cross Matt, but Beth sends him away. At the hospital, Franklin tells Ben about Beth's connection to the Jackson brothers and how the FBI believes he is being used. Although pleased to find Beth waiting in his car, Ben says little on the drive out of town. When they arrive at the farmhouse, Ben, needing to operate on the injured boy, sends Beth to the druggist for plasma. After arranging for the plasma's delivery, Beth heads for the bus station, but then changes her mind and returns to the farmhouse. On the drive back, Ben tells Beth that he knows about her past, but still wants her to stay. However, Beth, who feels obligated to Matt because he helped her when she left prison, boards a bus. When she arrives at the Jacksons' cabin, after learning from Ann and Will that Matt has gone to Indiana to kill Ben, Beth convinces them to help her stop him. Meanwhile, Matt kills Crossland, then goes to the hospital to wait for Ben, who is performing an after-hours surgery. A suspicious nurse secretly calls Franklin, who arrives with backup shortly after Beth and the Jacksons show up. Will shoots at them and is injured, but Beth finds Matt in an observation room over the surgery area trying to pick out Ben from the group of masked faces. When Beth prevents Matt from shooting Ben, Matt shoots her, then battles with the police, who apprehend him. After Beth's gunshot wound is treated, she is turned over to the police, but because she saved Ben, Franklin plans to ask the judge for leniency. Still in love, Matt tells Beth he will stand by her.
Joe E. Ross
Willa Pearl Curtis
Mary Alan Hokanson
Oliver S. Garretson
George James Hopkins
Leo K. Kuter
James C. Moore
Maurice De Packh
George Worthing Yates
This Woman is Dangerous
Tagline for This Woman Is Dangerous
Joan Crawford finished her Warner Bros. contract with This Woman Is Dangerous, the 1952 crime film cum soap opera that should serve as the quintessential title for a Crawford film. Although it was never going to make her an Oscar® contender, it gave her a role combining the toughness and romantic vulnerability that still makes her a fan favorite. In addition, the sight of Crawford as the brains behind a criminal mob is pretty much irresistible. Sadly, the film didn't do much for the actress, who would later call it her worst picture ever.
This Woman Is Dangerous was not exactly a top priority for studio head Jack Warner. For one thing, the script was strictly B-movie material: a female gangster sees the light when she falls for her doctor while recovering from eye surgery. Some sources have even suggested that Warner offered Crawford the story, hoping the expensive star would turn it down so he could put her on suspension. That was the same reason he offered the eye surgeon's role to Dennis Morgan, whose box-office appeal had diminished since World War II, when he had built up a fan following while more popular actors were in the military. To Warner's surprise, both stars accepted the film, though Crawford then instructed her agents to negotiate an end to her contract at the studio. She wasn't about to stay where she didn't feel wanted. Moreover, she had come upon a highly promising script for the independently produced Sudden Fear (1952) and wanted to make that film without having to arrange a loan from Warner's.
By 1952, Warner's was saying farewell to most of its classic stars. Bette Davis, Crawford's chief rival at the studio, had left three years earlier, while Morgan and the film's other leading man, David Brian, were also on the way out. Crawford had enjoyed a career renaissance at Warner Bros., signing with the studio after leaving MGM, where she had risen to stardom then devolved into box-office poison. After a smashing come-back with her Oscar®-winning role in Mildred Pierce (1945), her box-office had slowly waned as the rags-to-riches vehicles that had been her mainstay fell out of fashion. Most recently, she had scored a flop with Goodbye, My Fancy (1951), partly because Warner's had removed the play's sharp political satire to turn it into a conventional love triangle.
After three films in a row with director Vincent Sherman, with whom she had an affair, Crawford found herself working for the only time with Felix Feist, a director who had done some of his best work in film noir thrillers (most notably 1947's The Devil Thumbs a Ride). He had a fine cinematographer in Ted McCord, who had worked his magic with Crawford on her previous film, but the studio pushed the picture toward romance when it could have worked better with an edgier approach. At least Feist gave Crawford one memorable scene. While waiting for Morgan outside a prison where he's seeing a patient, she cringes as the matron berates a group of female prisoners, showing a lifetime of pain in her expressive eyes. And McCord used heavy shadows and scenes shot through objects to try to enliven the trite, predictable plot.
As Crawford and probably Warner himself expected, This Woman Is Dangerous did not do well theatrically and brought her some of her worst reviews. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times led the Bronx cheers: "Those who admire the actress may be most tenderly moved at the evidence of the suffering she stolidly undergoes. And to these the arrant posturing of Miss Crawford may seem the quintessence of acting art. But for people of mild discrimination and even moderate reasonableness, the suffering of Miss Crawford will be generously matched by their own in the face of This Woman Is Dangerous." In fact, his attacks on Crawford, for whom he rarely had a kind word, led her to ask her friend publisher Lawrence Quirk to find out why he hated her so much. Quirk (who had started his career working with Crowther) simply advised her that the critic was "a man of rather rigid tastes."
This Woman Is Dangerous might have hurt Crawford's career a lot more had she not already started on Sudden Fear. The new film's success six months later not only brought her an Oscar® nomination, but revived her career, setting the stage for a new string of vehicles at Columbia. Although hardly considered among her best films, This Woman Is Dangerous at least has developed a fan following. Viewers today value it for its connections to two other films casting Crawford as criminals, the much superior A Woman's Face (1941) and The Damned Don't Cry (1950). In addition, the film's print quality (recently restored for DVD), showcases McCord's atmospheric cinematography. For even the casual Crawford fan, it offers a chance to see how the star could manage to bring together toughness and vulnerability in a single role and sometimes, as when she tries to leave Morgan for his own good, a single scene.
Producer: Robert Sisk
Director: Felix Feist
Screenplay: Geoffrey Homes, George Worthing Yates
Based on the story "Stab of Pain" by Bernard Girard
Cinematography: Ted McCord
Art Direction: Leo K. Kuter
Score: David Buttolph
Cast: Joan Crawford (Beth Austin), Dennis Morgan (Dr. Ben Halleck), David Brian (Matt Jackson), Richard Webb (Franklin), Mari Aldon (Ann Jackson), Philip Carey (Will Jackson), George Chandler (Dr. Ryan), Sherry Jackson (Susan Halleck), Douglas Fowley (Club Manager).
by Frank Miller
Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography by Lawrence J. Quirk and William Schoell
This Woman is Dangerous
Joan Crawford told the audience at the Town Hall "Legendary Ladies" show in 1972 that she considered this her worst film.
Although an October 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item states that Frankie Hyers was set to portray the private detective, that role was played by Ian MacDonald in the final film. According to an August 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item, Ted Sherdeman was assigned to write the script, but his contribution to the film, if any, has not been determined. A November 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Max Steiner was assigned to do the score, but David Buttolph composed the score for the released film. Although Oliver S. Garretson is credited onscreen as sound man, early production charts list Les Hewitt. Hollywood Reporter news items add the following members to the cast: James Moore, Alma Mansfield, Robert "Buddy" Shaw, Lester Sharpe, Ray Rachlkowski, Les O'Pace and Jason Lindsey. Their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Portions of the film were shot in Pasadena and at the Los Angeles County Hospital, according to October 1951 Hollywood Reporter news items.
This Woman Is Dangerous was Joan Crawford's last Warner Bros. film until Whatever Happened to Baby Jane in 1962. According to a modern source, Warner offered Crawford the part of "Beth Austin" hoping the difficult actress would refuse to play the role and thereby provide grounds for the studio to break contract. Dennis Morgan reprised his role on March 16, 1953 in a Lux Radio Theatre production, co-starring Virginia Mayo and Leif Erickson.
Released in United States Winter February 9, 1952
Released in United States Winter February 9, 1952