Saturday, March 16, 2013

Yesterday's airing of Front Page Woman

I think I must have seen the latter half of Front Page Woman at some point in the past, as some of the plot points sounded and looked familiar. But, I didn't remember the beginning. One of the key plot elements saw yesterday's birthday boy George Brent looking through one of those old sand-filled cigarette butt receptacles that you don't see any more. I always thought those things only had a small amount of sand at the top, but this urn was filled all the way to the bottom, with enough sand to cover up a knife that was used in a stabbing. There's some other movie I saw not too long ago that had a knife hidden in a wall-mounted circuit box, which resulted in a phone call not being received. I don't know if it was one of the Torchy Blane movies or something else. Anybody know what movie that might be?

Another plot point is the one that makes me think I've seen the second half of Front Page Woman before: George Brent hides in a janitor's closet in a courthouse that's right next to the jury deliberation room, so he's able to eavesdrop on the jury and get their verdict for a newspaper scoop. I have a feeling that in real life, this would lead to a mistrial. Especially when you consider that Brent then goes into the jury room and fixes things so that Bette Davis will think the opposite verdict has been reached. But, a mistrial wouldn't serve the purpose of the movie. I can't imagine this particular plot development being used in another movie.

Front Page Woman looks like a programmer from the very beginning, with the opening credits being shown over a montage of newspapers with screaming headlines. I could swear that one of them read "Val Bradford Still Missing!" (at least, all in capital letters to make the headline look like it's screaming) It struck me because my immediate thought was that this was the name of Davis' character in Fog Over Frisco. In fact, her character was Arlene Bradford; Val (short for Valkyr) Bradford was her half-sister played by Margaret Lindsay.

A couple of the bit characters in Front Page Woman deserve mention. There was a fat lady reporter in the press club who has a couple witty lines with, I believe, Roscoe Karns. She was played by Grace Hayle, a career bit player who is often listed on IMDb as having played the fat character in the movie, since these bit parts would have been far enough down the list so as not to receive screen credits. Mean, but true. Nobody loves a fat woman except her grocer and her tailor, I suppose.

The other bit part was a juror who held out on deciding guilt or innocence of the defendant while the other 11 jurors held the other view. (You'll note I'm trying to avoid spoiling too many key plot twists here.) I immediately recognized the voice. "That's the Wienie King from The Palm Beach Story!" I exclaimed. The only difference is that this juror wasn't bald. But sure enough, both parts were played by Robert Dudley.

Front Page Woman hasn't receieved a DVD release that I know of, not even from the Warner Archive. I'd think that, since it's got Bette Davis in the cast, it's due for a release, either from the Archive as a standalone or as part of yet another Bette Davis box set.

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