Pre-Code cinema was often a dangerous game of one-upmanship. Warner Bros. took one look at MGM’s highly risqué Red-Headed Woman and decided to respond with this jaw-dropping sensation marketed with the tagline ‘She had it and made it pay’. She is Barbara Stanwyck, in a steely early role as single-minded young Lily Powers, sexually exploited from a young age and determined both to turn the tables on men, and to use her feminine charms to create a better life for herself. Inspired by some words from Nietzsche, she hops a train to New York with Chico (Theresa Harris) to embark on a career as a ruthless seductress.
Notes by Pamela Hutchinson
Screening as part of our Pre-Code Hollywood: Rules Are Made To Be Broken season, August 1st to 8th.