Cast & Crew
Robert Z. Leonard
John Mack Brown
A crook known as "Angel Face" blackmails her victims, men whom she lures to her apartment and from whom she demands hush money when they are found by her supposed husband. When the gang leader cheats her by not dividing the last haul, Angel Face robs him and leaves the gang, only to be pursued by them even after she has married a presumably wealthy man whom she intended to fleece. But having fallen in love with him, she decides to go straight.
Robert Z. Leonard
John Mack Brown
A Lady of Chance
The film opens with Dolly working as an operator at a luxury hotel where her plan to separate a rich businessman from his cash is foiled by two fellow crooks, Bradley (Lowell Sherman) and his girlfriend Gwen (Gwen Lee), who elbow their way into the scheme. But there's no honor among thieves and Dolly's cohorts cheat her out of her cut of the cash. Always resourceful, Dolly manages to rob the robbers and soon finds her meal ticket in the gullible concrete inventor Steve Crandall (Johnny Mack Brown) who she is convinced has a plantation and a fortune waiting back down South. The two travel down to meet his family, but her old criminal buddies soon show up to blackmail Steve. This time, however, Dolly has fallen in love and the former bad girl suddenly goes straight.
Norma Shearer's last silent picture, A Lady of Chance did attempt to keep abreast of the times by tacking some spoken dialogue onto the film post-production. However Shearer, who was nervous about speaking on film, never actually spoke in the film. A Lady of Chance had actually been discussed as Shearer's first talkie but the actress, according to biographer Lawrence J. Quirk nixed the idea, preferring to hold out for a better film.
Released in 1928, A Lady of Chance came at a time of enormous transition for Hollywood as the studios contemplated the uncertain future of the switch to sound with Irving Thalberg and Louis B. Mayer the holdouts in failing to believe in the form's success.
Anxious to end her distress about her vocal suitability to talkies, Shearer was delighted to find out that the University of Southern California was conducting experiments with the voice. The star had her voice analyzed and was pleased to discover that it was, as recounted by biographer Gavin Lambert, "ideal for talkies, medium in pitch, fluent, with a flexible Canadian accent that was not quite American but not at all 'foreign.'" Other actresses were reported to immediately begin mimicking Shearer's voice.
The wife of studio boy wonder Irving Thalberg needn't have worried that her stardom would be compromised by the advent of talking pictures. Her first true speaking role was the lead in MGM's first dramatic talkie, The Trial of Mary Dugan (1929). With the technical aspects of recording sound still daunting, the film benefited from unfolding in a single room, a courtroom where showgirl Shearer is on trial for killing her lover.
Suddenly aware of the potential of the talkies, Irving Thalberg scooped up a number of actors, plays and playwrights from the theatrical stage and decided to make one of his studio's first pictures a musical The Broadway Melody (1929).
Shearer's costar in A Lady of Chance, Johnny Mack Brown, was an ex-University of Alabama football star whose first film was made in 1927. After playing opposite some of Hollywood's brightest stars such as Joan Crawford and Greta Garbo, by the 1930s, Johnny Mack Brown's acting was not considered up to snuff and his career had downgraded to B Westerns.
During the filming of A Lady of Chance Brown apparently harbored an innocent school boy crush on Shearer and inundated the star with flowers and chocolates, much to Shearer's amusement.
Some considered A Lady of Chance a slight film unworthy of Shearer's talents. The New York Times was critical of the film, as was Variety which intoned "Picture hasn't any action, but extracts some good moments from Miss Shearer."
Director: Hobart Henley and Robert Z. Leonard
Producer: Irving Thalberg
Screenplay: A.P. Younger, John Meehan, Ralph Spence and Edmund Goulding based on the story "Little Angel" by Leroy Scott
Cinematography: William Daniels and Peverly Marley Production Design: Cedric Gibbons
Music: Christopher Caliendo
Cast: Norma Shearer (Dolly), Lowell Sherman (Bradley), Gwen Lee (Gwen), Johnny Mack Brown (Steve Crandall), Eugenie Besserer (Mrs. Crandall), Buddy Messinger (Hank).
by Felicia Feaster