A superior remake of the 1937 Ingrid Bergman Swedish film EN KVINNAS ANSIKTE, which was based on the French drama "Il Etait Une Fois" by Francis de Croisset. Crawford is terrific in this atypical story and should have been nominated for an Oscar but this was the year of Joan Fontaine in
SUSPICION plus some excellent films by Greer Garson, Olivia de Havilland, Bette Davis, and Barbara Stanwyck. They kept the Swedish background to the story although it could work just as well with a US setting. Crawford lives in Stockholm. Her face was disfigured as a child and she is now a lonely,
bitter woman. She becomes a part of a blackmail ring, meeting Veidt, a mean scion of society who needs money. She falls for him and learns that he stands to inherit a huge sum from his father, Basserman, but his nephew, Nichols, will also get a large part of the fortune. Veidt wants it all and he
uses his charms to involve Crawford in a scheme to murder Nichols. Crawford is mad for Veidt and talks herself into thinking he feels the same way about her. Not neglecting her blackmailing business, Crawford has gotten her hands on some steamy letters written by Massen who is married to plastic
surgeon Douglas but likes to play around. Crawford visits Massen's home and attempts to extort money from her, but is interrupted with the arrival of Douglas. She hides but is found and Douglas, thinking she is burglar, threatens to call the police. Massen dissuades him and then Douglas takes an
interest in Crawford, offering to surgically repair her face. Crawford agrees and the operation is a success. Douglas is delighted with his own work, although he soon sees that his scalpel may have healed the exterior but the interior of Crawford is still scarred. Crawford returns to Veidt, who
puts in motion his plan to murder Nichols by first getting Crawford a job in his father's mansion as Nichols' nanny. Crawford quickly realizes Nichols is a sweet child and can't go through with the murder plan. Out of desperation, Veidt attempts to kill Nichols, but is stopped by Crawford who
shoots him to death. There is a murder trial and Crawford is acquitted when the defense produces a letter she'd written earlier to Basserman that detailed Veidt's plot. Douglas, who is finally wise to Massen's promiscuity, falls in love with Crawford and the two are united at the conclusion.
The picture begins at the trial and is rolled in flashback. The victim's identity in the trial is not revealed until the end. It's almost, but not quite, film noir, perhaps due to Cukor's attempt to put gloss and glamor to the story rather than shoot it with any sort of dark style. This was
Veidt's second US picture after ESCAPE and he was properly evil. Basserman, a well-known actor from Germany, did not speak English and learned his lines phonetically, a tribute to the man's sensitivity because there was not one wrong inflection in any of his speeches as the Swedish consul. The
picture was not a hit when it was first released, but when promoters began thumping the tub by calling Crawford "a female monster," audiences flocked in. Among all of the criminal machinations, there are some good romantic moments, such as the scene in which the female criminal shows that she has
a sensitive side by playing a Chopin piece for Veidt. There is also one lovely sequence as Crawford, having just emerged from the operation, finally realizes that she no longer has to tug her hat down over the side of her face to hide the scar. She removes her hat, lets the breeze waft through her
mane, and strides down the street with joy in her step. Impeccably produced, sharply edited, and, most of all, tastefully acted, A WOMAN'S FACE goes well beyond being "a woman's picture" and takes its place as one of Crawford's best.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: A superior remake of the 1937 Ingrid Bergman Swedish film EN KVINNAS ANSIKTE, which was based on the French drama "Il Etait Une Fois" by Francis de Croisset. Crawford is terrific in this atypical story and should have been nominated for an Oscar but this w… (more)