Drama / Horror / Mystery
Drama / Horror / Mystery
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Thirteen women who were schoolmates send to a swami for their horoscopes. Little do they realize that Ursula, a half-breed Asian, is using her hypnotic powers over the swami and them to lead them or their families to their deaths. It seems that she too went to their school, but was forced to leave by their bigotry, and is exacting revenge. Will she be stopped in time to save Laura's son, Bobby? —Robert Tonsing.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
Aug 15, 2021 at 06:15 PM
grade Movie Reviews
Be kind to your classmates or........
I looked forward to seeing this film on TCM. I was disappointed in what I saw. I've read that several minutes were cut from the original for censorship and other reasons and have never been restored. Even Turner who usually attempts to present features uncut and in as pristine condition as is humanly possible hasn't done much with this early talkie, even the sound was bad. So I have to go with what I saw. First, being an early talkie, many of the actors were still gesticulating and shouting their lines as if on stage or doing a silent flick. Particularly guilty of this was C. Henry Gordon who played a key character Swami Yogadachi. Fortunately for the viewer he is killed not long after the movie begins. The two future divas, Irene Dunne and Myrna Loy, do much better and appear very modern with their acting skills. Ursula Georgi (Myrna Loy) is sinister and evil to the core yet smiles like an adorable angel. Irene Dunne as Laura Stanhope plays the type role that she would perfect in later movies. Ricardo Cortez as Police Sergeant Barry Clive does a decent job in a role that isn't all that demanding.Second, the writing is good with an intriguing plot: twelve former classmates of a boarding school are being killed off by rejected classmate number thirteen through the use of phony horoscopes. The plot should have enabled the story to move along at an even pace. Yet there are places in this approximately one hour film that are very boring. These boring stretches are broken by a few exciting moments. The trapeze scene is a dandy as is the final scene aboard the fast-moving train. Cinematography is exceptional in some places considering the age of the film, especially the final scene featuring Myrna Loy. Also impressive is the car chase sequence when the chauffeur is attempting to make a getaway with Laura Stanhope captive in the back seat.Third, though the racial prejudice angle is bold and enlightening for 1932 when Hollywood was notorious for racial stereotyping, it actually only figures in at the very end of the movie in one extremely well-done and well-written scene when the two protagonists Ursula and Laura (Loy and Dunne) confront one another in a spell-binding moment of truth and retribution.How long must we wait until a restored version of this film is released on DVD so we can make a more accurate assessment?
Perfect Rainy-night Fright Film
This campy little coo-coo bird has to be seen to be believed. Beware of anonymously sent bouncy balls. I first saw this film many years ago on the early American Movie Classics (before it was destroyed by commercials and awful movies); I made of point of watching it because I was reading Myrna Loy's autobiography at the time and she mentioned this film.Modern viewers may be a bit surprised to find that there is really nothing new in film-making; everything in the psychological thrillers and slasher films over the years that terrified you is done here, and better. Like the rest of the reviewers, I am nearly insane with wonder at what the famous missing 15 minutes might hold (I know a scene further developing the Peg Entwistle character was deleted), but the existing version of this film is a tight, entertaining hour of suspense.Exotic and beautiful Ursula Georgi sets out across America to reek her revenge on those upper crust white gals that ousted her from her school sorority and ruined her chance in life to "pass" as one of the elite. If you can actually locate the book this is based on, it's a very enlightening read, for therein we learn that poor Ursula was whored out as a young girl. An orphanage finally placed in her in the sorority with the rich white girls to save her from her life of degradation and exploitation. I believe Ms. Loy must have read the novel, she plays Ursula with a clear awareness of the horrors of her young past. By ostracizing and then kicking her out of the sorority, the rich snobs destroyed her chance to escape and live among the rich and respectable. No wonder she is murderously furious with them. A round robin letter, horoscopes of dread, the stink-eye from Ursula and former sorority sisters end up in the obituary column one by one.Even today, this hour long film is tensely paced and engaging. Ricardo Cortez is always a pleasure to watch, a smooth, beautiful man and a superb actor who brings a touch of class to all of his work. Young Myrna Loy is beginning to show the prowess that would make her one of the most successful of all 20th century actors. If you love 1930's films, this is a very unique and interesting one, you won't be sorry.
Irene Dunne vs. Myrna Loy square off in a terror train.
This fascinating, hypnotic RKO 'A' film bombed so badly that the studio withdrew it from release, chopped out 15 minutes (from 74 to 59), and disposed of it on the bottom end of double bills. The question is: Why?Even after 70 years, "Thirteen Women" is an eerie, lushly produced thriller that provides more genuine chills than in any of today's counterparts. For movie buffs, the real treat is seeing Irene Dunne and Myrna Loy (both of whom within a year or two would emerge as two of Hollywood's most bankable and respected leading ladies) slumming in a nasty pre-Code creeper about a half-caste sorority girl (Loy) who enlists the aid of a sinister spiritualist to exact revenge on the prejudiced campus "ladies" who expelled her from their club a few years earlier. One by one, and by devious means, Loy (still playing slant-eyed fiends, but not for much longer, thank God!)meticulously plots and carries out the not-for-the-squeamish deaths of her victims--until the last one alive, Irene Dunne, happily married with an adorable young son, remains her sole surviving target. After her plans to poison the toddler go awry, Loy goes bonkers and boards the train where the police (it certainly takes them long enough to figure out what's going on) have secreted Dunne until they apprehend Loy. The climax--with a dagger-wielding Loy chasing the terrorized Dunne through one car to the next--is a corker--meticulously copied and working equally well a half a century later in the climax of "Terror Train" (with Jamie Lee Curtis duking it out with a transvestite psycho). Even chopped to 59 minutes, "Thirteen Women" is still a landmark horror film. The most baffling mystery is why audiences rejected it in 1932. Perhaps it was ahead of its time. Depression-era loved mysteries--but uncensored exercises in sheer terror like "Thirteen Women" were too scary for comfort (even today, it provokes an unsettling series of shocks that make it the "Psycho" of the '30s--and even the "Psycho" of 30 years later had to overcome initial critical pans before audiences pounced on it and lapped up every sick, terrifying minute.) Hopefully, the 15 minutes a worried RKO cut from the original prints of "Thirteen Women" will be discovered and restored so we may someday see this unexpected treasure as it was intended to be seen. Meanwhile, even the expurgated version (shown occasionally on Turner Classic Movies--check the listings) is as dazzling and brazen a shocker Hollywood turned out in the early 1930s--before the Hayes Office took over and thwarted any further movie from going as gleefully and sadistically over-the-top as the delicious "Thirteen Women." (Even MGM had to severely edit "Freaks" to placate horrified censors and audiences.)
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