Woman in the Dark
Cast & Crew
Released from prison after serving "good" time for killing a man in a brawl, John Bradley returns to his home town of Denton and moves into his deceased father's house. Soon after his homecoming, John is visited by Helen Grant, the young woman over whom he and his victim had fought. In spite of John's protests, Helen, Sheriff Fred Grant's daughter, insists on lingering in his home. Her flirtations are interrupted, however, by the sudden arrival of Louise Loring, a beautiful woman wearing an evening gown and expensive jewels. While resting at John's house, Louise, who twisted her ankle while making a hasty exit from the home of racketeer Tony Robson, is accosted by Robson and his henchman, Dick Conroy. After Louise refuses to leave with Robson, he telephones Sheriff Grant and reveals that Helen is with John. Although the sheriff fails to catch Helen at John's, he accuses John of corruption and insinuates that Louise's reputation is less than virtuous. Immediately after the sheriff leaves, a drunken Robson and Conroy return, determined to take Louise with them. In defense of Louise, John knocks out Conroy and intimidates Robson. Later Louise tells John about her relationship with Robson, which began when the racketeer befriended her as an aspiring classical singer in Boston and gradually took control of her life. Sheriff Grant, meanwhile, hears that Conroy's skull was fractured during his fight with John, and that Robson has sworn out a warrant for John's arrest. Alerted by Helen about Robson, John takes off for the city with Louise and heads for the home of his former prison mate, Tommy Logan. While hiding at Tommy's, John and Louise realize that, in spite of their pasts, they have fallen in love with each other. The next morning, the police, acting on a tip from the sheriff, arrive at Tommy's, and shoot at John as he tries to flee. After a wounded John escapes, the police arrest Louise on charges that she stole jewelry from Robson. Back in Denton, Louise is bailed out of jail by John's lecherous lawyer Kraus, and then, after hearing that John is safe in a hosptial and that Conroy is being nursed at Robson's apartment, she agrees to return to the racketeer. While visiting John in his guarded hospital room, Tom tells his friend about Louise and Robson, unaware that Louise is trying to clear John through Conroy. Infuriated at Louise's seeming betrayal, John escapes from the police once again and rushes to Robson's apartment. There, he and Louise hear screams and catch Robson trying to suffocate the barely conscious Conroy. John knocks out Robson, and the police are about to re-arrest him when Conroy reveals that it was Robson who delivered the near deadly blow to his head. Vindicated at last, John reunites with Louise, who happily returns her jewels to Robson.
Reed Brown Jr.
William [p.] Thompson
Fay Wray (1907-2004)
She was born Vina Fay Wray, in Cardston, Alberta, Canada on September 15, 1907. Her family relocated to Arizona when she was still a toddler so her father could find employment. When her parents divorced, her mother sent her to Hollywood when Fay's eldest sister died in the influenza epidemic of 1918. The reasoning was that Southern California offered a healthier climate for the young, frail Wray.
She attended Hollywood High School, where she took some classes in drama. After she graduated, she applied to the Hal Roach studio and was given a six-month contract where she appeared in two-reel Westerns (25 minutes in length), and played opposite Stan Laurel in his pre-Oliver Hardy days.
She landed her first big role, as Mitzi Schrammell, in Erich von Stroheim's beautifully mounted silent The Wedding March (1928). It made Wray a star. She then starred in some excellent films: The Four Feathers (1929), the early Gary Cooper Western The Texan (1930), and one of Ronald Coleman's first starring roles The Unholy Garden (1931), all of which were big hits of the day.
For whatever reason, Wray soon found herself in a string of thrillers that made her one of the great screamers in Hollywood history. The titles say it all: Doctor X, The Most Dangerous Game (both 1932), Mystery of the Wax Museum, The Vampire Bat (both 1933) and, of course her most famous role, that of Ann Darrow, who tempts cinema's most famous ape in the unforgettable King Kong (also 1933).
Wray did prove herself quite capable in genre outside of the horror game, the best of which were Shanghai Madness with Spencer Tracy; The Bowery (both 1933), a tough pre-Hays Code drama opposite George Raft; and the brutal Viva Villa (1934), with Wallace Beery about the famed Mexican bandit. Yet curiously, the quality of her scripts began to tank, and she eventually found herself acting in such mediocre fare as Come Out of the Pantry (1935), and They Met in a Taxi (1936).
With her roles becoming increasingly routine, the last of which was the forgettable comedy Not a Ladies Man (1942), she decided to trade acting for domesticity and married Robert Riskin, who won two Best Screenplay Oscars® for the Frank Capra comedies It Happened One Night (1934) and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936). When Riskin died in 1955, Wray found herself working to keep busy and support her three children. She landed supporting parts for films like The Cobweb (1955), Hell on Frisco Bay (1956) and Tammy and the Bachelor (1957). She also found work in television on such popular programs as Perry Mason and Wagon Train before she retired from acting all together in the mid-'60s.
To her credit, Wray did remain reasonably active after her retirement. She published her autobiography, On The Other Hand in 1989 and was attending many film festivals that honored her contribution to film, most notably in January 2003, when, at 95 years of age, she accepted in person her "Legend in Film" Award at the Palm Beach International Film Festival. Wray is survived by a son, Robert Riskin Jr.; two daughters, Susan and Victoria; and two grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Fay Wray (1907-2004)
Although this film was not viewed, the above credits were taken from a cutting continuity deposited with the copyright records. In the cutting continuity, the actor Cliff Dunstan's name was misspelled as "Clifford Dunston" and Frank Otto's name was misspelled as "Frank Otte." Dashiell Hammett's name appears above the film's title in the opening credits. A Film Daily news item adds Georgia Harvey to the cast, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.