Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


SINGAPORE WOMAN (1941). Director: Jean Negulesco.

A man sits in a cafĂ© and across the room sees a figure out of his past: the beautiful daughter of a wealthy man who once helped him. He remembers the night he was at her house and she came running out of her bedroom, while behind her a rejected suitor blew his brains out. At the police station, the wife of the dead man tells the woman that she is ultimately responsible for her husband's death and now her own life will be cursed. In rapid succession, her father loses his fortune, her husband falls overboard and drowns, the gal hits rock bottom, and now this former femme fatale winds up a hopeless, pitiful, disheveled drunk in a tacky, rundown saloon in Singapore. Nevertheless, the young man (David Bruce) is mesmerized and decides to approach her ... That's the start of Singapore Woman and you'll either want to switch the channel or settle back and dig in for more. Despite the sudsy promise of the opening, you ultimately may want to choose the former option, because Singapore Woman turns out to be an okay but not very memorable South Asian remake of Bette Davis' Dangerous (itself no masterpiece), which garnered Davis what most consider a “pity” Oscar. In the Davis part, Brenda Marshall is perfectly swell, although not as –shall we say – vivid as Davis. David Bruce [in the Franchot Tone role} and the supporting cast also give it their all, and the programmer is well-directed by Negulesco, containing a certainly zesty bar fight scene. The film has a different ending from Dangerous however. [SPOILER ALERT: she stays with Bruce instead of returning to her not-so-dead husband.]
Verdict: Singapore Woman is a competent curiosity, all right; it just isn't anything special. **.

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