Ladies They Talk About


1h 9m 1933
Ladies They Talk About

Brief Synopsis

A lady bank robber becomes the cell block boss after she's sent to prison.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Prison
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Feb 4, 1933
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
The Vitaphone Corp.; Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Ladies They Talk About by Dorothy Mackaye and Carlton Miles (Los Angeles, production date undetermined).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 9m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

Nan Taylor is arrested after acting as a decoy during a bank robbery. David Slade, a radio evangelist who has been calling publicly for tougher prosecution of criminals, recognizes Nan as a former classmate whose father was the deacon in the town where Slade's father was the town drunk. Taking advantage of his obvious attraction to her, Nan protests her innocence and begs for his help. Walter Simpson, the district attorney, agrees to parole her to Slade's care, although he is skeptical about her claims. When she confesses to Slade that she actually was involved in the robbery, however, Slade withdraws his support and Nan is sentenced to prison. In prison, she refuses to see Slade despite his frequent pleas, thereby attracting the hatred of fellow prisoner Susie, who is jealous of Slade's interest in Nan. After Nan learns that Don and Dutch, members of her gang, have been arrested, she agrees to see Slade in order to further their escape plans. She slips a letter into Slade's pocket which contains vital information about the plot, and through no fault of Slade's, the letter falls into the hands of the police and the escape fails. Nan's parole is denied because of her part in the crime, during which both Don and Dutch were killed. She believes that Slade betrayed her, so when she is finally released, she hunts him down, intending to kill him. Pretending to be sorry for her crimes, she meets with him privately, and then shoots him. Instantly remorseful, she apologizes, and when the police arrive, Slade tells them that he and Nan are getting married.

Photo Collections

Ladies They Talk About - Lobby Cards
Here are several Lobby Cards from Ladies They Talk About (1933). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Prison
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Feb 4, 1933
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
The Vitaphone Corp.; Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Ladies They Talk About by Dorothy Mackaye and Carlton Miles (Los Angeles, production date undetermined).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 9m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

Ladies They Talk About


The women-in-prison movie genre has always been a favorite stable for lovers of cult and exploitation films and it's one that's enjoyed a long run in popularity that continues to this day. Starting with the seminal, cliché-establishing Caged (1950) the genre continued to gain momentum and popularity with such films as Women's Prison (1955) featuring Ida Lupino as the psychotic superintendent, House of Women (1962) with Shirley Knight, and the Spanish/Italian production of 99 Women (1969) starring Mercedes McCambridge. The 1970s offered up what is probably the best WIP (Women in Prison) film of the decade, director Jonathan Demme's Caged Heat (1974) featuring Barbara Steele as the evil, wheelchair-bound warden. Since then, the WIP genre has upped the level of nudity and violence as well as showcasing a more tongue-in-cheek approach with such outrageous and sleazy fare as Chained Heat (1983) and Reform School Girls (1986). With all that in mind, it's surprising to learn that the genre was actually established in the 1930s with Ladies They Talk About (1933) starring Barbara Stanwyck.

Stanwyck plays Nan Taylor, a gangster moll who is sent to prison after assisting her goon buddies on an early morning bank heist, wearing a platinum blonde wig (looking very similar to her character in her next film, Baby Face, also released in 1933). While in prison, Nan encounters all of the standard, prison genre clichés that would make the later films so memorable; large, burly matrons, the scheming, jealous rival inmates, the no-nonsense warden, odd and grotesque older prison inmates, or "life-ers" (including, most notably, veteran character actress Maude Eburne as the beloved and former bordello madam, Aunt Maggie, whose former profession makes up for most of the films running jokes). The film also showcases some brief, subtle references to lesbianism through the character of a masculine, cigar-smoking inmate who flexes her muscles for an adoring fellow prisoner (a quite strange, fleeting scene that no doubt ruffled some feathers during this Pre-Code era of filmmaking). No women-behind-bars spectacle is complete without the expected catfight, which this film also includes.

Unfortunately, the prison dramatics play backseat to the real focus of the story, which revolves around Nan's romantic relationship with the city's politically aspiring evangelist character played by Preston S. Foster. As with all of her performances, Stanwyck radiates a natural, down-to-earth quality devoid of heavy theatrics; she tosses out snide one-liners and viciousness as well as coming across quite sympathetically in her true desire to "go straight" and leave her wicked ways behind. However, with any film on retribution, the character has to go through one final test of wills. In this case, during the second act of this considerably short film (69 minutes), the action is focused on Nan's role in helping her crime buddies escape from the men's prison (which is located on the other side of the women's section).

The period music used in the film is quite memorable - a mixture of classic blues and jazz tunes. One highlight being a scene in which fellow inmate, Linda (played by Lillian Roth, who would later chronicle her troubled life in her autobiography, I'll Cry Tomorrow, which was subsequently made into a film starring Susan Hayward) croons "If I Could Be with You" to a photo of comedic actor Joe E. Brown.

The film was based on a play called Women in Prison by actress Dorothy Mackaye, who incidentally, served a brief sentence in the San Quentin Penitentiary. Mackaye was sentenced for one to three years for "attempting to conceal facts" in the beating death of her husband, stage actor Ray Raymond. Raymond died as a result of a fight between himself and screen actor Paul Kelly. Kelly and Mackaye were having an affair which instigated the confrontation between Raymond and the couple. (Mackaye later married Kelly in 1931). While in prison, Dorothy made productive use of her time. Being an actress herself, Dorothy started an acting group for her fellow inmates. Amusingly enough, one of her productions included a cast of all convicted murderesses; Clara Phillips, the "Hammer Murderess" and Dorothy Ellington, the "Jazz Slayer".

Dorothy also made note of the women's plight and living conditions within prison, great material that she would use to piece together her play, which was received positively. That ultimately lead Warner Bros. to purchase the rights and bring it to the screen as Ladies They Talk About (before settling on that title, it was alternately called Women in Prison, Lady No. 6142, Prisoner No. 6142 and Betrayed.)

Producer: Raymond Griffith
Director: Howard Bretherton and William Keighley
Screenplay: Sidney Sutherland, Brown Holmes, William McGrath (based on the play, "Women in Prison" by Dorothy Mackaye and Carlton Miles)
Editor: Basil Wrangel
Art Direction: Esdras Hartley
Music: Leo F. Forbstein
Costumes: Orry-Kelly
Cast: Barbara Stanwyck (Nan Taylor), Preston S. Foster (David Slade), Lyle Talbot (Don), Dorothy Burgess (Susie), Lillian Roth (Linda), Maude Eburne (Aunt Maggie), Ruth Donnelly (Noonan), Harold Huber (Lefty), Robert McWade (DA Walter Simpson), Helen Ware (Miss Johnson), Grace Cunard (Marie), Madame Sul-Te-Wan (Mustard).
B&W-69m.

by Eric Weber
Ladies They Talk About

Ladies They Talk About

The women-in-prison movie genre has always been a favorite stable for lovers of cult and exploitation films and it's one that's enjoyed a long run in popularity that continues to this day. Starting with the seminal, cliché-establishing Caged (1950) the genre continued to gain momentum and popularity with such films as Women's Prison (1955) featuring Ida Lupino as the psychotic superintendent, House of Women (1962) with Shirley Knight, and the Spanish/Italian production of 99 Women (1969) starring Mercedes McCambridge. The 1970s offered up what is probably the best WIP (Women in Prison) film of the decade, director Jonathan Demme's Caged Heat (1974) featuring Barbara Steele as the evil, wheelchair-bound warden. Since then, the WIP genre has upped the level of nudity and violence as well as showcasing a more tongue-in-cheek approach with such outrageous and sleazy fare as Chained Heat (1983) and Reform School Girls (1986). With all that in mind, it's surprising to learn that the genre was actually established in the 1930s with Ladies They Talk About (1933) starring Barbara Stanwyck. Stanwyck plays Nan Taylor, a gangster moll who is sent to prison after assisting her goon buddies on an early morning bank heist, wearing a platinum blonde wig (looking very similar to her character in her next film, Baby Face, also released in 1933). While in prison, Nan encounters all of the standard, prison genre clichés that would make the later films so memorable; large, burly matrons, the scheming, jealous rival inmates, the no-nonsense warden, odd and grotesque older prison inmates, or "life-ers" (including, most notably, veteran character actress Maude Eburne as the beloved and former bordello madam, Aunt Maggie, whose former profession makes up for most of the films running jokes). The film also showcases some brief, subtle references to lesbianism through the character of a masculine, cigar-smoking inmate who flexes her muscles for an adoring fellow prisoner (a quite strange, fleeting scene that no doubt ruffled some feathers during this Pre-Code era of filmmaking). No women-behind-bars spectacle is complete without the expected catfight, which this film also includes. Unfortunately, the prison dramatics play backseat to the real focus of the story, which revolves around Nan's romantic relationship with the city's politically aspiring evangelist character played by Preston S. Foster. As with all of her performances, Stanwyck radiates a natural, down-to-earth quality devoid of heavy theatrics; she tosses out snide one-liners and viciousness as well as coming across quite sympathetically in her true desire to "go straight" and leave her wicked ways behind. However, with any film on retribution, the character has to go through one final test of wills. In this case, during the second act of this considerably short film (69 minutes), the action is focused on Nan's role in helping her crime buddies escape from the men's prison (which is located on the other side of the women's section). The period music used in the film is quite memorable - a mixture of classic blues and jazz tunes. One highlight being a scene in which fellow inmate, Linda (played by Lillian Roth, who would later chronicle her troubled life in her autobiography, I'll Cry Tomorrow, which was subsequently made into a film starring Susan Hayward) croons "If I Could Be with You" to a photo of comedic actor Joe E. Brown. The film was based on a play called Women in Prison by actress Dorothy Mackaye, who incidentally, served a brief sentence in the San Quentin Penitentiary. Mackaye was sentenced for one to three years for "attempting to conceal facts" in the beating death of her husband, stage actor Ray Raymond. Raymond died as a result of a fight between himself and screen actor Paul Kelly. Kelly and Mackaye were having an affair which instigated the confrontation between Raymond and the couple. (Mackaye later married Kelly in 1931). While in prison, Dorothy made productive use of her time. Being an actress herself, Dorothy started an acting group for her fellow inmates. Amusingly enough, one of her productions included a cast of all convicted murderesses; Clara Phillips, the "Hammer Murderess" and Dorothy Ellington, the "Jazz Slayer". Dorothy also made note of the women's plight and living conditions within prison, great material that she would use to piece together her play, which was received positively. That ultimately lead Warner Bros. to purchase the rights and bring it to the screen as Ladies They Talk About (before settling on that title, it was alternately called Women in Prison, Lady No. 6142, Prisoner No. 6142 and Betrayed.) Producer: Raymond Griffith Director: Howard Bretherton and William Keighley Screenplay: Sidney Sutherland, Brown Holmes, William McGrath (based on the play, "Women in Prison" by Dorothy Mackaye and Carlton Miles) Editor: Basil Wrangel Art Direction: Esdras Hartley Music: Leo F. Forbstein Costumes: Orry-Kelly Cast: Barbara Stanwyck (Nan Taylor), Preston S. Foster (David Slade), Lyle Talbot (Don), Dorothy Burgess (Susie), Lillian Roth (Linda), Maude Eburne (Aunt Maggie), Ruth Donnelly (Noonan), Harold Huber (Lefty), Robert McWade (DA Walter Simpson), Helen Ware (Miss Johnson), Grace Cunard (Marie), Madame Sul-Te-Wan (Mustard). B&W-69m. by Eric Weber

Quotes

You're wasting that panorama on me, Nan. Save it for Dave Slade.
- District Attorney
Say, there isn't any punishment bad enough for you!
- Susie
Yeah? Well, being penned up here with a daffodil like you comes awful close.
- Nan Taylor
I'm not 'fraid of nobody in this jail. I'm doin' life and that's all I got.
- Mustard

Trivia

The play had a production in Los Angeles, California, USA, with co-author Dorothy Mackaye in the lead.

Notes

According to Variety, the play was produced in Los Angeles with Dorothy Mackaye in the lead. Modern sources list additional players as William Keighley, Isabel Withers, Harry C. Bradley, Davison Clark, Ferris Taylor and Helen Dickson.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1933

Released in United States 1933