Lady Gangster (1942)

Dot Burton (Faye Emerson) has got herself in with the wrong crowd: a gang of bank-robbing men who want her help pulling off the heists.

Of course, they offer her a hefty share of money, so she agrees. With a dognapped puppy (say it with me: CUTE PUPPY BONUS) in her arms, she weasels her way into the bank before its usual opening time, telling the guard that she is in a great hurry and can’t wait any longer. With the bank doors now open, her buddies are able to come in and rob the place.

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)
(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

But it all falls apart due to one small detail: the dog’s collar, which is tagged with a different name than Dot gave the police when questioned after the robbery. It looks like she might be headed off to the slammer, but a local broadcaster named Kenneth (Frank Wilcox) is convinced of her innocence.

Robert Florey, credited as “Florian Roberts,” directs the 62-minute crime caper/prison film, Lady Gangster (1942).

I spent the first few minutes of my viewing of Lady Gangster wondering whether I’d seen this film before and just forgotten about it. I soon realized that I was not having an accidental re-watch, but was instead recognizing the story from Ladies They Talk About starring Barbara Stanwyck, which was based on the same play!

Stanwyck’s shoes are, of course, incredibly difficult to fill. Faye Emerson takes on the Stanwyck-equivalent role here and does a decent job. She’s believable in the role, and she doesn’t give the character quite a smuch of a “scheme-y mastermind” edge as Stanwyck did for Nan, so it’s a different spin on a familiar character. She also serves a killer arched eyebrow and eyeroll.

While Emerson’s performance is pretty good, her male supports are absolutely stiff as boards. The film suffers because of this, and is nowhere near as engrossing as the earlier telling of the same tale.

(Image via Noirestyle)
(Image via Noirestyle)

Though the male supports are weak, I did enjoy Emerson’s fellow female prisoners, who were all quite good in their roles. Julie Bishop is particularly impressive. The Dot/Myrtle friendship was my favorite aspect of the story, and the two actresses work very well together.

Lady Gangster is not near as good as Ladies They Talk About, but it’s an enjoyable little crime drama. It’s quite well-paced, especially considering the short run-time, and though the cast on the whole isn’t stellar there are very good performances from Emerson and Bishop.

The score: 2.5/5

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3 thoughts on “Lady Gangster (1942)

  1. If you’re allowed to reveal a few spoilers here: it’s interesting that the Faye Emerson character is guilty of her crimes, but Frank Wilcox is convinced of her innocence. From my experience, this film would end with Wilcox proving Emerson of any wrong-doing, and they live happily ever after. But she was guilty of these crimes, right? How did this situation end up?

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    1. **Spoiler warning for anyone else who may be reading the comments**
      When Emerson confesses to Wilcox he gets angry and refuses to help her anymore, so she turns herself in and goes to jail. He feels guilty, tries to help her get paroled, and then the old gang she’s taking the fall for comes after him. Emerson then escapes from prison and saves his life, only to return to prison with a promise of marriage by Wilcox once she’s paroled. Quite far-fetched!

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