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The Strange Woman

The Strange Woman

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The Strange Woman  Beautiful Jenny Hager finds she can always get what she wants from the men in the 1820’s port of Bangor, Maine. Freed by his death from her drunkard father she soon manoeuvres herself into a position to marry a middle-aged monied local businessman. Though she often uses his money to do good, she continues to consider all other men fair game.

Should be better remembered

The Strange Woman  An obscure film which, because of surprising creative touches in directing, acting and editing, should be shown more often: more than a potboiler, more than a “women’s picture” that did not happen to star Bette Davis or Joan Crawford, it offers an engaging story, characters of substance and – except for a convenient and contrived ending – an honest portrayal of people caught in a web of circumstances and emotions they cannot control. Aside from the glitter and sweep, it has more similarities to than differences from “Gone With the Wind.”

This may be Hedy Lamarr’s most challenging role, and she acquits herself quite well. George Sanders appears infrequently as a sympathetic character, but even he is victimized by the Scarlett O’Hara-like wiles of Hedy. That both of these performers have accents that are not suggestive of born-and-bred Maine residents should not constitute more than a minor annoyance. The picture has more than enough offsetting merits.

Unusual femme fatale film

Hedy Lamarr once said that the key to appearing beautiful is ‘to stand still and look stupid’, but here she proves she could act when required to. As the daughter of a drunk, Jenny has ambitions to rise in the world and become beautiful, using her wiles to subdue and bewitch men into doing her bidding. With a rich and older husband with a weak and easily led son, you can see where this is going, and with people like George Sanders and Louis Hayward supporting her in the cast, Hedy shines in the title role.

A beautifully shot, tightly written film which may have been low budget but has a definite sheen of polish.

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