16 April 2018 | HotToastyRag
Very entertaining uncensored Jean Harlow-esque flick
You're going to have to get past the title of this movie. Carole Lombard plays the title character. She's a singer in a Malaysian nightclub, and since at that time it was pretty scandalous for a white woman to hang around "natives", the other white people look down on her. Also, her first husband committed suicide, so Carole has quite a bit of stigma attached to her. Before she's "run out of town on a rail"-in the words of Lionel Barrymore in It's a Wonderful Life-wealthy plantation owner Charles Laughton proposes marriage.
If you're familiar with Jean Harlow's films, you'll enjoy White Woman ten-fold. After only reading the above paragraph, I'm sure you're picturing Jean's character from Reckless. Then, when Carole marries Charles and relocates to his rubber factory, you'll be reminded of Jean's film from 1932: Red Dust. White Woman is so obviously Paramount's answer to Jean Harlow and Red Dust, it's mind-boggling. I've seen Carole Lombard in her classic screwball comedies, and she's completely different in this romantic drama. She looks like Jean Harlow, she speaks like Jean Harlow, she holds her shoulders like Jean Harlow-it's as if director Stuart Walker told her, "We've got to take the attention away from MGM. Be Jean Harlow's clone." In her imitation of Jean, Carole's performance is excellent. She comes across as a beautiful, serious dramatic actress, which is not how her career is usually remembered.
Charles Laughton plays the cuckolded husband, and his Cockney persona is very entertaining to watch. In a way, he plays a very obsessive character, obsessed with cruel pranks. As Charles Bickford got third billing, I thought Carole would fall in love with him, but he's crude and coarse, and she prefers the gentle romance of Kent Taylor. Charles Bickford's blatantly sexual dialogue is very funny and shocking for the time period, so if you get a kick out of pre-Code nasty films, you'll want to watch this one. Also, there's quite a bit of violence in the story, which, had it been made one or two years later, wouldn't have been allowed. The violence is chilling and graphic, yet another reason to appreciate this uncensored old flick.
Kiddy Warning: Obviously, you have control over your own children. However, since there's an upsetting scene involving an animal, I wouldn't let my kids watch it.