For review of all movies starring Barbara Stanwyck, go here.
Stars: 2.5 / 5
Recommendation: Disconnected plot; mismatch or miscast actors for their roles; mediocre acting by supporting cast; and a melodrama that solely survived on the chemistry between the lead cast even though it failed to hold the movie high. Movie makers definitely took a gamble with this one.
Prologue: This series follows movies of Barbara Stanwyck. I have gained a certain fascination for her as she reminds me so much of one my favorite yester year Hindi Indian language actress Nutan. Here is my review of her next film.
Gambling Lady is a 1934 American pre-Code romantic drama film directed by Archie Mayo, produced by Henry Blanke and released by Warner Bros. Pictures Inc. The movie has Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea, Pat O’Brien and Claire Dodd in the lead cast. Screenplay is written by Doris Malloy and Ralph Block adapted from the original story by Doris Malloy.
When Jennifer “Lady” Lee’s (portrayed by Barbara Stanwyck) father commits suicide, she goes to work for Jim Fallin, a shady syndicate, but quits and sets her own gambling den when she realizes his crooked game. She is pursued by two men to marry them – bookie Charlie Lang (portrayed by Pat O’Brien) and Garrison “Garry” Madison (portrayed by Joel McCrea). A tale that leads to jealousy, murder and redemption.
This is the first film that I saw of Stanwyck that didn’t get good reviews for her acting. She was called “an adequate portrayal”. Claire Dodd was considered to be miscast in the role of Sheila Aiken. Appreciation for Joel McCrea’s role as Garrison “Garry” Madison was applauded however.
Perhaps the mediocre review of her performance was given because of Stanwyck’s natural dislike towards the director Archie Mayo who was famous for pinching, slapping and groping female cast in his movies. Yet she is pretty, very strong and a charming Lady Lee in the film. Her gowns were made by designer Orry-Kelly.
Robert Barrat who played Stanwyck’s father Mike Lee in this film, also played the role of her father in the 1933 American pre-Code drama film Baby Face . Although both the roles were polar opposites in their characterization.
You must have heard Joel McCrea as the fictious Texas Ranger Jace Pearson on the hit radio show Tales of the Texas Rangers that aired between 1950 and 1958. Pat O’Brien who played the role of Charlie Lang in the film also had many radio appearance in the golden era of radio.
The film has several disconnects – murder is never solved; why doesn’t Lady ask her father-in-law’s help when things go bad. It felt like an incomplete story or the director was limited to 66 minutes and couldn’t get all the story in. Perhaps that was another reason for getting a very low review for this movie.
Disconnected plot; mismatch or miscast actors for their roles; mediocre acting by supporting cast; and a melodrama that solely survived on the chemistry between the lead cast even though it failed to hold the movie high. Movie makers definitely took a gamble with this one.
- This is the fifth of the six films that Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea worked together – 1939 American Western drama Union Pacific; 1937 American drama film Internes Can’t Take Money; 1957 American Western movie Trooper Hook; 1942 American Western film The Great Man’s Lady; 1936 American musical comedy-drama film Banjo on My Knee.
- Film debut for actress Kay Garret. She was a funeral guest in the film.
Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:
- In the opening visual credits, actor Arthur Vinton’s character is listed as “Fallin.” However, in the film, the door of his office bears the name “Fallon Investment Company”