For Reel

Parole Girl (1933)
September 24, 2014, 7:14 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Edward F. Cline
3.5 Stars
Parole GirlParole Girl appears in an article written by film scholar David Bordwell entitled “Daisies in the crevices” which concerns itself with the visual pleasures of ordinary 1930s American cinema. The film is just that–it’s a low-budget, fast-paced programmer that was released to little fanfare during Holy Week in 1933. But, even in its ordinariness, it represents the perfect storm of Hollywood professionalism–there are no struggles with continuity, the screenplay (though relying on contrivances) is tidy and satisfying, and the cast is more than up to their collective task. Where it is exceptional is that it involves one of star Mae Clarke’s (sporting a stylishly short-cropped hairstyle) finest performances. She transitions from apologetic victim to vengeful harpy and finally back to sympathetic heroine with tremendous grace, finding the unifying trend of her character’s essential tragedy at each step. Perhaps her best moments are those in which she takes tremendous bliss in playing a domestic nightmare–she delights in manipulating her castrated husband and raiding his pockets for cash. What could have been a simple shrew becomes an unfulfilled housewife’s revenge fantasy: she’ll clean the apartment and fulfill her domestic duties, yes… but only when she feels like it!