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A Woman's Face

An absurdly melodramatic story, about a nursemaid with a hideously scarred face, who beats a gradual retreat from her embittered life of blackmail and murder-plotting into a world of love and righteousness when she undergoes plastic surgery. Despite some rather silly dialogue (Veidt: 'Do you like music? Symphonies? Concertos?' - Crawford: 'Some symphonies, most concertos'), scripted by the usually reliable Donald Ogden Stewart from a French play (Il ├ętait une Fois by Francis de Croisset), Cukor's civilised handling of the actors and his often expressionist visuals lend credence to the tale, with atmosphere thick and juicy enough to cut with a knife. Crawford herself was acclaimed for her courage in spending half the film with her distinctive beauty disfigured, but in fact it is Veidt who steals the show, satanic and sinister, as a decadent connoisseur of evil. For Cukor fans, it's also of interest as a peculiarly explicit example of his abiding obsession with the relationship between inner reality and external appearances.

Release details

Duration: 105 mins

Cast and crew

Director: George Cukor
Screenwriter: Donald Ogden Stewart, Elliot Paul
Cast: Joan Crawford
Melvyn Douglas
Conrad Veidt
Osa Massen
Reginald Owen
Albert Basserman
Marjorie Main
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