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

Thursday, July 26, 2012


THE LADY GAMBLES (1949). Director: Michael Gordon.

While her husband David (Robert Preston) works on a dam in Nevada, Joan Boothe (Barbara Stanwyck) wiles away her time in a gambling casino. There she meets Corrigan (Stephen McNally), the pit boss who is attracted to her, and uses her in certain schemes and high-stakes card games. But Joan's bigger problem is a growing addiction to gambling, which eventually jeopardizes her marriage and even her life. While today we would simply refer to Joan as a "gamblaholic" and be done with it, The Lady Gambles comes up with some dime store psychology involving Joan's neurotic sister Ruth (Edith Barrett) to explain her addiction. In spite of that, the movie is absorbing, in no large part due to Stanwyck's typically riveting performance. McNally is also excellent as Corrigan, adding some interesting dimension to an underwritten role. Barrett certainly delivers as the tormented, jealous sister. Preston is fine in the least interesting role of the husband. Dyspeptic John Hoyt (Attack of the Puppet People) is his usual acerbic self as a doctor. Tony Curtis has a bit part as a bellboy, and William Hudson also has a bit. At one point in the film Corrigan tells the two sisters that his first name is Horace, which is how McNally was originally known when he appeared in such films as Laurel and Hardy's Air Raid Wardens.

Verdict: Stanwyck is one hell of an actress and this is a very interesting story. ***1/2.

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