Thirteen Women (1932)
In this suspenseful drama, an embittered woman exacts revenge upon the 12 women who wronged her in college. The trouble began when the woman, who was of Japanese and Indian heritage, was ejected from a college sorority because she wasn't white. Still angry, the woman hires an astrologer to create 12 terrifying horoscopes for each of the dastardly dozen. These grim predictions terrify the victims into doing dreadful things. One commits suicide, while another commits murder. More mayhem ensues until the astrologer makes some dire predictions about the vengeful woman herself. She doesn't like it, and using her psychic powers she forces him in front of an oncoming train. She then resumes her revenge by trying to poison the son of the remaining woman. This causes a police inspector to get suspicious, and he follow the murderous woman to the train station where she plans to kill the woman. A chase ensues culminating in the evil woman's demise. … More
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Critic Reviews for Thirteen Women
A rarely seen, undervalued and racially provocative semi-horror film that anticipates the 'body count' movies of future decades, this is a doozy and a knockout, with Myrna Loy at her sexiest and most exotic.
Audience Reviews for Thirteen Women
Silly junk, wildly dated that was one of Myrna's final villainess Eurasian roles. She looks great but is far better than the part deserves.More
If you're someone who enjoys movies where women sit around and gossip and get divorces from their husbands, you'll like this movie, but if you're like me and want more from a movie look elsewhere. Overall, this movie is okay, but it's long and it gets annoying listening to the women gossip for scene after scene.More
A young lady, described as 'half Hindu and half Chinese' but looks like neither, is made to feel unwelcome at her all-girl finishing school by her white classmates. Years later her classmates, through a series of chain-letters, send away to a 'swami' for their horoscopes. As fate would have it, the 'half-breed' girl now works for the swami and she devises a plan for revenge that involves hypnosis, the power of suggestion, and some poison chocolate.More
Thirteen former sorority sisters start to receive, one by one, a horoscope prophesizing their doom from a renowned swami. When the prophecies begin to play out, the remaining few gather to fight their destiny. It turns out Myrna Loy attended their college but wasn't accepted into the sorority because she was a half-caste Hindu. It's Loy who is behind the letters, having influenced the swami with her mind powers, and she's out for bloody revenge on the girls who shunned her.
Sounds like the plot of an eighties slasher like "House On Sorority Row" right? Wrong, this was made in 1932, taking advantage of that small window before the Hays Code shut the party down. I can't say if the makers of the "Final Destination" series were influenced by this but the theme of trying to escape your fate is very similar. The opening scene involving a trapeze act feels like a thirties precursor to the set pieces of that franchise. There's an effective scene on a subway platform, Archainbaud ratcheting up the tension by exaggerating the sound of the station turnstiles.
Hollywood wasn't known for raising the issue of racism in the early thirties so the motives of Loy are quite a curiosity. Tellingly though she isn't portrayed with any of the sympathy such a character would evoke in a contemporary movie. Likewise the mention of a miscarriage feels pretty heavy compared to the general frothiness of thirties cinema. One of the women implies a promiscuous nature which will be a bit of a shock if you're not familiar with pre-code cinema.
Irene Dunne plays a single mother, trying to stop Loy from claiming the life of her son. How often do we see a single mother as the heroine of a movie now let alone back then? Male audiences may have found this early feminism uncomfortable. In his review at the time, New York Times critic Mordaunt Hall noted "an uncomfortable absence of hearty male chatter in this demoniacal intrigue".
Several characters meet their fate through suicide, a topic that immediately became taboo once the code was introduced. In possibly the first creepy offscreen coincidence surrounding the production of a horror movie, star Peg Entwistle ended her life on the day of the film's release. Dramatically, she threw herself from atop the letter H on the famous Hollywood sign.
It may be creaky even for it's era but it's a nice little curiosity piece and an interesting foreshadowing of the slashers that would appear almost half a century later.
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