When Cukor made A Woman’s Face—a dreamlike, psychologically acute noir about a disfigured woman stuck in a life of crime, adapted from a Swedish Ingrid Bergman vehicle—his star Joan Crawford was on shaky career ground. It was a risk for her to appear onscreen half-caked in grisly makeup, but the gamble paid off: her performance here is one of her finest, a sensitive portrait of a woman consumed by shame, resentment, and fear. (Special notice goes to her extended, burnt-out confessional speech mid-film.) It’s a beautifully shot and often highly stylized movie—which, somehow, makes it no less effective at probing the relationship between physical and moral ugliness.
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