A Woman's Face - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

A Woman's Face Reviews

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January 14, 2015
This film may surpass even Joan Crawford's Oscar-winning performance in `Mildred Pierce' as the best of her career. `A Woman's Face' is part courtroom drama, part mystery, and unfolds in the form of flashbacks through the eyes of no less than half a dozen questionable characters. Crawford plays Anna Holm, a facially scarred woman whose disfigurement has led her to an embittered life of crime... She's a `cold-blooded, ruthless little Galatea' - or is she?--Scarred on the outside, scarred on the inside. That is the central theme of 'A WOMAN'S FACE'... An Impressive Probing of Criminality- A Risky Proposition That Paid Off Marvelously!!
November 5, 2014
Joan Crawford is fantastic (as she often is).
½ October 23, 2014
A lesser known Joan Crawford film that simply fails to pull through it's messy dialogue & confusing plot twists.

The story of a woman twisted by her physically appearance (and evident scaring on her left cheek) & then her transformation to normalcy & the good & negative consequences of this.

The idea is strong but the film fails to pull it off & many scenes you find yourself very uninterested.
½ September 25, 2014
Joan Crawford stars as a woman whose bitterness over her facial disfigurement leads her to become the leader of a group of blackmailers. When a plastic surgeon corrects this disfigurement, she becomes torn between the hope of starting a new life and a return to her dark past.

From the beginning we know that Crawford is the murderer but we don't know who she murdered, or why. She again manages to make a rather hardened, bitter, and potentially murderous woman quite sympathetic. However, in this film she is the lesser of two evils, with Conrad Veidt being typecast as his usual nefararious character.

There are excellent performances by Melvyn Douglas, as the plastic surgeon; Osa Massen as the scheming maid, and Donald Meek and Reginald Owen as Crawford's shady accomplices. I did not care for Albert Bassermann as the rich aged uncle or Richard Nichols who played his nephew; their demeanor was to silly and goofy. Director George Cukor creates some atmospheric moments, notably the gondola ride over the falls and the sled chase at the end. It's a very solid film, and once again the performances carry the day.
½ July 26, 2014
Crawford delivers an atypically restrained, but typically compelling performance in this court drama, cleverly told mostly in flashback. Things take a turn for the dark in the middle, and you're kept guessing right until the somewhat abrupt but totally 1940s ending. It's entertaining, and Joan's acting is definitely on point as a woman scarred not just physically but mentally by her life's misfortunes. Melvyn Douglas is also good, as are the entertaining members of Crawford's 'gang' of petty criminals. Good old fashioned fun, nothing brilliant but better than average. Good stuff.
February 1, 2014
George Cukor directed this Joan Crawford vehicle where she plays a bitter angry woman with a facial deformity but finds her life changed after surgery. Joan give a more "normal" performance and resists her usual inclination to be over-dramatic. I actually think this one ranks among her better films, though I think "Johnny Guitar" remains her best film. Solid melodrama with some nice crime story elements as well.
½ January 16, 2014
one of crawford's late MGM vehicles i really liked this pic
April 20, 2012
When Frankenstein returns to Hollywood in A Woman's Face, a picture of so much social and artistic power that still manages all of that in old fashion.
Bill D 2007
Super Reviewer
½ January 25, 2012
Right after directing "The Philadelphia Story," George Cukor made the unfairly forgotten melodrama "A Woman's Face," starring Joan Crawford and a great supporting cast that included Melvyn Douglas and a demonic Conrad Veidt.

It's certainly not a great film. But like the vast majority of 1940s melodramas, it's been weirdly forgotten.

The first thing that hit me when it started was the unbelievably cheap sets. I don't know how Cukor tolerated cardboard sets. But I put that out of my mind and focused on the story, which was actually quite interesting.

A woman (Crawford) has a disfigured face resulting from a house fire that occurred when she was a child. The social and erotic ostracism she experienced because of the disfigurement has turned her soul black. She is just one step away from becoming a serial killer.

She meets her demonic equal (Veidt), and they team up to kill a five-year-old boy who stands in the way of Veidt inheriting a fortune. I kid you not; this story gets quite dark. There are other dimensions to the story that add some nice richness.

If not for the cheap sets and rancid B-movie music, "A Woman's Face" could have been a major film. The sequence where Crawford is on the verge of killing the child is unforgettable. Oh, and did I say the film is set in Sweden? Sweden, of all places. But all the dialogue is in English. Odd little movie.

(Just FYI -- Cukor doesn't have much name recognition these days, but he directed many famous movies, including 'My Fair Lady,' 'Adam's Rib,' 'Born Yesterday,' and the Judy Garland version of 'A Star is Born.')
August 7, 2010
Heads up: This movie is set in Sweden. I was really expecting a dark and gritty New York City as a backdrop and plenty of chiaroscuro and overwrought film noir score. I also wanted more drama with the sleazy boyfriend and more transformation into glamor girl after the scar is removed (Why not some spectator pumps instead of those frumpy clunkers, Joan?) and more consistency with the different points of view (Some of the people who were narrating had no way of knowing the things they were narrating). I could have also gotten more good out of Vincent Price playing Conrad Veidt's part. While I am a little disappointed about these points, I am not disappointed in the film overall. Good story and good acting and good edge-of-your-seat moments that make you plead, "No, Joan Crawford! No!!"
Also, for some reason, Melvyn Douglas was really reminding me of Glenn Beck. Something about his posture or chin or voice. Not sure. This weird thing may have made the film more enjoyable for me.
Anyway, I totally recommend this. There is absolutely no sneer like a Joan Crawford sneer. And there's a great slapping scene. And a shooting scene--in a fur coat, no less. Love it.
April 29, 2010
Mi película favorita de George Cukor.
½ January 5, 2010
One of Joan Crawford's best performances, its a great movie and should be recognized as such. Joan Crawford delivers a striking performance as a Swedish woman whose scarred face has made her bitter. Some of the dialogue drags a bit, but overall its a great pic.
½ August 7, 2009
conrad veidt, you crazy evil mofo
July 26, 2009
I liked watching this because I really couldn't predict what may happen, so the story definitely worked. A dark role for Crawford, but she always was able to pull them off well. A couple of suspenseful scenes also made this film memorable. I started watching this with "Now, Voyager", to come out a year later, ringing in my head and this film certainly took the transformation role in a different direction but ultimately ended in nearly the same place.
rubystevens
Super Reviewer
July 17, 2009
dark material for cukor, better known for his comedies. he manages to draw a nicely restrained performance from joan crawford, as a woman whose fate is twisted by her disfigured face. and no one does evil like conrad veidt. i'd love to see the original swedish film with ingrid bergman but it must be nearly impossible to find. only one flixster rating!
March 1, 2009
[6.5] A pretty good yarn about just how far a disfigured woman will go for some lovin'. The first half is about her decision to undergo cosmetic surgery. The second and more interesting half is about her plight to murder a young boy so that her lover can inherit a fortune. There's plenty of inner turmoil for Crawford to work with, as she struggles with her decision to stop being a monster and join the human race. She does a great job, as always. I also enjoyed the snowy setting and all the supporting performances. I just wish the first half moved along more linearly, and without the cumbersome courtroom trial framework.
Super Reviewer
½ December 13, 2008
Sometimes I actually prefer A Woman's Face over Mildred Pierce - Cukor seems to have subdued Crawford a little, making her seem less histrionic - softer and less brittle. But I suppose that's why it's less popular - we want the brittle glamour and we love to see Joanie "suffering in furs". In 'Mildred Pierce' we don't quite believe her as a frumpy house-wife, wearing a pinnie, baking pies so as soon as she dons the shoulder-pads and starts bashing Vida about, we cheer!
But Anna Holm is a great character too and just as exciting to me.
Scarred physically as well as mentally, Anna takes her misfortunes out on the silly 'beautiful' women of the film with blackmail. It's not long before she is falling for the insidious charms of Conrad Veidt and is seduced into the worst of all crimes - the murder of a child. This poses a troubling flaw in her character (probably not intentional). You don't know till the end of the flic whether she carries out her heinous act or not (this being Hollywood you have a fair idea though!) but the fact that she, at least, considers it seriously is infinitely harder to forgive than her blackmail endeavours. It does add to your interest in Anna though - but at the same time you sympathize with her less. It's still a marvelous film and Crawford is great. Veidt, as usual, is wonderfully malevolent as the villain of the piece and their scenes together are eery and spellbinding (despite some dodgy dialogue) .
Many of the minor characters do a fine job too - I particularly liked Albert Bassermann's crusty old Consul and Ossa Massen is a delight as one of Crawford's 'silly' victims (Crawford gets to give her a good slapping). Melvyn Douglas, on the other hand, is only adequate. To me he seems to be in the wrong movie - his screwball and matinée idol pedigree doesn't ring true in such a dark and gothic tale.
It's surprisingly cinematic for a Cukor pic (As great as I think his films are, I do find them a little flat visually) - looking very noirish and gothic - especially the way Crawford is lighted. And it has a very exciting chase in the snow for a finale.
It has it's faults but they are few and minor. I defy you not to enjoy it!
November 19, 2008
Unexpectedly great. The best performance of Joan's that I've seen so far, including Mildred Pierce that won her her only Oscar. Definitely recommended to all classic movies fans.
September 11, 2008
George Cukor casts a beautifully nourish climate, setting this edgy drama in Stockholm, opening on a late night in a rural Swedish tavern where Conrad Veidt, playing a ritzy gentleman, hosts a party. When the tavern will no longer stretch his credit, he enraptures Joan Crawford, who engenders the feeling of the entire movie as the seriously scarred owner, into signing his check. Crawford is shortly revealed to be a cruel blackmailer. After a woman succumbs to her threats, Crawford hatefully demands more money because the woman is beautiful. The woman, played by glacial Osa Massen, is at first frightened by Crawford, but when the heartless blackmailer loses herself in a reverie talking about love, Massen maliciously shines a light on her face.

When weighing Crawford's performance in A Woman's Face against her Oscar-winning one in Mildred Pierce, she gave great performances in each despite Mildred Pierce being a lesser film, nevertheless in this brooding film, she is more effectual in her self-discipline, which was one thing she had that Bette Davis didn't. Her character's internal wounds emerging through her communicative and incidentally beautiful eyes and crushed gaze. (In spite of her character's horrendous disfigurement, she remains tremendously beautiful.) Seeing the scene in which her disfigured face is shown for the first time when she takes her hat off, as if she were expecting a reaction of horror from Veidt, and absorbing the true sorrow in her eyes and lips which, pertaining to her character, shows accidentally her cynical notions, the real actress owes the reality of her portrayal's nuances to her own chaotic personality.

There is a share of comparatively sluggish conformity that Cukor occasionally allows to peek around the corner, such as the oft-used device of telling the story through flashbacks from a courtroom of assorted caricatures, lending to its stock usage of Melvin Douglas, as per his usual, delivering a likable performance as a dashing good guy. robe the criminality allowed in a 1941 film. Crawford goes to Conrad Veidt, who by this time in the story temporarily lost touch with her, and he in a roundabout way tells her that his very old, very wealthy uncle is leaving everything to his four-year-old grandson, although if something happens to the child, Veidt himself will become heir to everything. The concept is then initiated, as Crawford poses as a new governess for the boy, who Cukor ruthlessly presents as one of the most adorable little kids in the history of movies.

This intriguing stranger of a movie is film noir that, in the face of its obedience to convention, rises above said genre by unfolding with sympathy and hope. Film noir, done right anyway, is unyielding and severe. Film noir illustrates the soul of nature inside, the unwitting impulses of the characters, their material depths, jealousy, greed, resentment, deceit, and all known vices of the unaware, which can show in two ways, a beautiful way and an evil way. The film's central character is a misunderstood woman in the halfway point of a blackmail mob and as a result living on the underside of a world that has rejected her, hence it has to be measured as such. Cukor utilizes simplicity in his manipulation of the film's world through her mind's eye, employing lighting, things positioned on the scarred side of her face, tossing a shard of light on top of her open eye after an operation and other such subtleties. The suspense is fluent, we want to see her unwrap the gauze, in many respects, and that uncomplicated idea steers the whole film. This is my first Cukor film, and I see that he is a very able director. His production values in 1941 are comparable to today's. The film's music score is, save for the conventional closing, very effective and not at all trite.
½ September 3, 2008
I've seen this twice recently & could watch it again. A young Joan Crawford nails this performance as Anna Holm, whose transformation we observe as it unfolds. Forget what you've heard about Joan Crawford. Watch her early movies with expectation & enjoyment. This story is well written (was a French play) & holds up to any so-called modern scriptwriting in Hollywood. Excellent. Bravo, Queen Joan!
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