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Marked Woman Reviews

This hard-hitting crime film, based upon the notorious career of one-time New York City vice lord Charles "Lucky" Luciano, was a tour de force for Davis who had just battled Warner Bros. to a standstill in a contract dispute. Luciano (Ciannelli) gathers his "hostesses" (then a euphemism for prostitutes) to announce that he is opening a swanky nightspot, the Club Intime, and instructs the girls to make sure that customers are steered to the bar to drink and to his crooked gambling tables. Davis tells him that the new place will be nothing more than a clip joint, and Ciannelli gives her a wicked smile, telling her that that's exactly what it will be and that anyone who doesn't want to cooperate can quit. O'Flynn, a customer who loses more money to Ciannelli than he can pay, is warned to leave town by Davis. He is murdered, and Davis swears she will tell what she knows to crusading district attorney Bogart. However, when she is brought into court, Davis clams up, threatened with death by Ciannelli's goons. Later, her unsuspecting sister, Bryan, goes to the club and is killed by Ciannelli when she resists the advances of his associate, Davidson. Enraged, Davis vows to send Ciannelli to prison for life this time. Welden and some other Ciannelli goons barge into Davis' apartment and beat her senseless, scarring her face for life, making her a "marked woman." From her hospital bed, Davis implores her fellow prostitutes--Methot, Marquis, Jewell, and Lane--to testify with her in court and put the boss away. Thanks to their scathing testimony, Ciannelli is convicted and sent to prison. Davis and her friends are given the thanks of the authorities and walk solemnly into the night to face uncertain futures. Luciano, one of the sleaziest, most vicious hoodlums to operate in New York, made prostitution a nationwide syndicate operation. Bogart's role as the prosecuting attorney is based on Thomas E. Dewey, who put Luciano away after getting five of his most notorious prostitutes to testify against him. Davis is marvelous as the spirited prostitute, her best performance since her appearance in THE PETRIFIED FOREST (1936). She didn't like the way she was bandaged for her courtroom scene after having been mutilated, so she went to her own doctor who applied realistic bandages. When she drove through the front gate at Warner Bros., the guards frantically called the front office to report that Davis had been in a horrible accident. The fetching Bryan was thought by some to be Davis' intended replacement at Warner's, but the star shocked one and all by adopting the newcomer as a protege, encouraging her to assert herself before the cameras. Davis later said of Bryan: "The last time I played with her (in MARKED WOMAN), I had to hide her face in a pillow to keep her from stealing my scenes."