Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Faye Emerson, Julie Bishop, Frank Wilcox, Roland Drew, Jackie Gleason
Director: Robert Florey
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Cult Movies, Mystery & Suspense
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Stolen money, women in prison, and gangsters in drag!
Dave | Tennessee United States | 05/15/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This review is of the Alpha dvd of "Lady Gangster." It's described on the cover as a "Warner Brothers noir classic", but I think that's going a little too far. I guess it earns a spot in what Eddie Muller would call the caper subgenre of film noir, but it's also in the "women-in-prison" genre. In any event, it's an ulta-low budget film that barely lasts over an hour, and it's never terribly exciting or compelling. So why the four star rating? Because this is one of those movies that's so bad it's good! You've probably never heard of any of the cast, except for a young Jackie Gleason in a supporting role. Despite the fact that he plays a tough guy, he still just looks like a pudgy teddy bear that you can't help but laugh at!
Faye Emerson stars as Dorothy Burton, the only female member of a gang that has just robbed another bank. Everything goes smoothly, until a dog somehow gets her into trouble with the police, who arrest her. Ever notice how dogs usually bring on the downfall of the main character in noirs, like in "High Sierra" and "The Killing"? Anyway, she's arrested on charges of being an accomplice in the bank robbery, but she's released soon thanks to an old friend, Kenneth Phillips (played by Frank Wilcox), who's a very influential reporter. However, she starts to feel guilty and decides to tell the truth and heads right back to jail. In the women's prison she becomes close friends with one prisoner (Julie Bishop) while becoming enemies with two other prisoners, one an ugly, cold-hearted deaf woman and the other a prissy, annoying stool pigeon.
Before going to jail, Dorothy had hidden the stolen $40,000 from her three accomplices after finding out they were going to double-cross her. They're not too happy about her hiding the money, and one of them dresses in drag (and this is a 1942 movie!) in order to fool the guards and see Dorothy on visiting day. This is obviously the most (unintentionally) hilarious scene of the whole film! The deaf girl and the stool pigeon find out about the missing money and they tell the warden, which immediately ruins Dorothy's chances of getting a parole. Thinking it was Kenneth who betrayed her, she tricks him into going to her apartment to get the money, where unknown to him Dorothy's three accomplices are waiting to kill him.
When she finds out that Kenneth didn't betray her, she breaks out of jail(!) and tries to save him while redeeming herself in the process. I won't spoil the ending, but let's just say it wasn't exactly an edge-of-the-seat thriller! Overall, I'd say this movie is definitely worth getting if you're a film noir fanatic like me, because you'll have a lot of fun laughing at the dated dialogue, cliches, and of course the female prisoners with flawless make-up and hairdos! And poor Jackie Gleason probably didn't realize that this "serious" role was one of his funniest! His most memorable line in this is: "I don't like to see a dame like that get mixed up in a job like this." Considering the age of this little-known movie, I was pleasantly surprised by the overall very good picture and sound quality of the dvd. Highly recommended!"
It ain't citizen kane, but ....
nom-de-nick | United States | 04/21/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"for a grade-P or Q noir explotation flick, this one's just about perfect ... the "moll" speaking grammarically perfect English, slaps that don't quite connect, the tough guys, the fight scenes that seem stilted somehow; the can't-quite-figure-it-out love interest, major plot holes, assorted prison buds and creeps, the ultra-kind matron, car chases, and on top of it all, a VERY young Jackie Gleason playing one of the gang, with several good lines. You can't get better entertainment, intended or not, for this price.
yaremar | Pilsen, USA | 11/19/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"For every Warner Brothers classic like CASABLANCA, there's dozens of Warners "B" movies that no one has ever heard of. This 1942 crime melodrama is one of them. Framed for a robbery, Faye Emerson is sent to women's prison; then, like her male counterparts in movies like this, she breaks out and tries to clear her name. This enjoyable, compact little picture moves so rapidly (running less than an hour) that you barely have time to mull over the illogical chain of events. Ultimately, however, the film's most memorable aspect is the appearance of young supporting cast member Jackie Gleason, a decade before his television immortality."
Faye Emerson goes behind bars for fun crime caper
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 01/27/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I purchased LADY GANGSTER (along with several other Alpha titles) a few months ago, but only recently got around to watching it. This is a really fun movie! Originally a B-picture from Warner Bros., this title has evidently slipped through the cracks into Public Domain territory, which is where you'll find LADY GANGSTER, in a quite pleasing transfer from the good people at Alpha/Oldies.
Faye Emerson stars as Dot Burton, an actress who's drawn into a group of bank-robbers. She provides the pretty decoy and the boys control the strong-arm tactics, and the arrangement works out just fine until Dot lands in jail for her part in the gang's most audacious bank hold-up. In jail, Dot corresponds with journalist Phillips (Frank Wilcox), a childhood friend; as well as the prison's resident hard-boiled dame, Myrtle (Julie Bishop). Keeping the secret of where her gang has hidden their fortune, Dot tries her best to stay clean and successfully apply for parole...but not if loony "stool-pidgeon" Lucy (Ruth Ford) has anything to do with it...
Running just over an hour, LADY GANGSTER never outstays it's welcome and blazes along in the best tradition of Warner Bros'. crime dramas. Faye Emerson is a charming and delightful presence in the lead role. It's a must-see for anyone who appreciates this kind of escapist fare."