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  • Warning: Spoilers
    The great Kay Francis was an astute actress. She knew this project was going to be her farewell to a distinguished movie career and decided to co-produce the picture herself, something that assured one of the best roles she made in the industry. She proved she was quite at home in sophisticated comedies, as well as portraying this Sheila Seymour, who was some piece of work. Working with director William Nigh, "Allotment Wives" doesn't pretend to be anything other than an entertaining drama with a shade of film noir mixed in.

    Sheila Seymour is the sly head of a racket that involved monies that phony wives claimed about GIs fighting WWII. Her front is some sort of a canteen where soldiers mix with girls for entertainment and where some of the candidates for doing the dirty jobs can be found. Sheila is also the owner of a salon where wealthy ladies are pampered and who love to return Sheila's kindness by offering their help giving the soldiers a nice send off before they have to go to war. Little does Sheila know her empire was coming to a tragic end when Pete Martin enters the picture!

    Kay Francis is excellent, as always. She wasn't a beauty by Hollywood standards, but what a presence she projected! She put most of her peers to shame, as she shows in this picture. Paul Kelly, Otto Kruger, Gertrude Michael, Teala Loring, and the rest of the supporting players make the best of their characters.

    "Allotment Wives" was a rare find when we stumbled into it by just pure coincidence. It is recommended for fans of Kay Francis. She will not disappoint.
  • Many film buffs consider this the best of Kay Francis' "Monogram Trilogy". It's a good companion piece for MILDRED PIERCE (also 1945) -- only ALLOTMENT WIVES has a harder edge -- Kay Francis is tougher, in a more complex role. She looks slim and stylish here as she leads a crime syndicate while fronting with a chic salon. The film is full of surprises and suspense. Excellent support comes from Teala Loring as Kay's troubled daughter who is kept from harms way at a private girls school. Their scenes together have a genuine feeling that allows sympathy for their situation and struggle. Kay's final scene on the staircase is a classic and her exit line is a memorable one. Gertrude Michael does a fine job as Kay's long lost friend out to do her no good. Her character throws more sympathy Kay's way even though Kay herself has a cold-blooded side in a losing "man's" game.
  • "Allotment Wives" is a 1945 film from a poverty row studio, Monogram. And it looks like that's where it came from: a bad print that kept freezing and rotten sound.

    But give Kay Francis credit. Even when she knew Warner Brothers was trying to get rid of her, she kept right on working as if the rotten parts didn't bother her at all.

    By 1945, Francis was all but through, and she starred in this film. It's the story of a ring of women who married several servicemen at a time in order to get their pay as well as their life insurance if they were killed. The leader of the group runs a tight ship, but trouble begins when a government agent posing as a reporter starts snooping around.

    I wasn't as impressed with this film as several others on this board. I thought it was routine. I always enjoy Kay Francis, very much a star in the early '30s. Here she's in a Joan Crawford type of role and handles it differently from the way Joan would have, much more subtly. Paul Kelly and Otto Kruger are featured and give good performances.

    Kay Francis returned to her stage roots in the '40s and finally retired in 1952. When she died, she left one million dollars to train Seeing Eye Dogs.

    There's an interesting story about her. Once when she had been retired for some time, she was recognized. "Aren't you Kay Francis?" someone asked. She answered, "I was."
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In 1945, with offers dwindling, Kay Francis made a last attempt at a film comeback by forming her own producing company with Jeffrey Bernerd. Bernerd was a feisty Englishman who had produced some exploitation movies, including "Where Are Your Children" and "Are These Our Parents". Even though Kay had been associated with studios such as Paramount and Warner Bros., the studio where Kay ended up making her last three movies was lowly Monogram, "the graveyard of burned out stars". Though Bernerd remembered her royal treatment in her heyday he was surprised at her ruthless penny pinching approach which included looking out for low budget stories and with "Allotment Wives" even rewriting the script. The picture had a 10 day shooting schedule with the main objective being to make money. Kay certainly did try to tackle hard hitting subjects, first with "Divorce" and now with "Allotment Wives" which tried to delve into the problem of women who bigamously marry soldiers in order to collect benefits.

    This movie, which allowed Kay to be totally unsympathetic yet fascinating, starts in an almost documentary fashion, introducing the "Office of Dependency Benefits" which supported the wives of servicemen. When Peter Martin (Paul Kelly) finds that his good friend has killed himself (due to finding out his new bride already has several husbands) he goes under cover and his search leads him to Sheila Seymour (Francis). She runs a canteen that caters for servicemen in more ways than the obvious. She recruits her "hostesses" from her beauty shop which in turn is a front for a "Allotment Wives" syndicate.

    One of the hostesses, Gladys Smith (Gertrude Michael) recognises Sheila as an old partner in crime. They had both been petty criminals although Sheila mysteriously escaped reform school and now Gladys is out for revenge and she finds it in Connie. Connie (Teala Loring) is Sheila's secret, a rebellious daughter who she has been shielding in an exclusive girl's school but Connie is only too eager to get involved in the high living and bright lights that Gladys introduces her to. Toward the end the movie swings into action with Sheila showing to what lengths she will go to, to protect her daughter. Guns blaze, bodies fall over beds, even Sheila's right hand man, Whitey (Otto Kruger) takes a bullet to protect Connie who doesn't seem a particularly agreeable girl.

    Gertrude Michael turned up in many programmers during the thirties, always playing elegant types, so she must have hoped a surprising lead in "The Notorious Sophie Lang" (1934) would push her into the big time. Unfortunately she was disappointed and by the early 1940s she was even clinging on to poverty row programmers but she could always be proud of Sophie Lang.
  • There is great cause for celebration among fans of obscure and esoteric films because ALLOTMENT WIVES (1945), a provocative and tremendously fascinating example of poverty row noir finally premieres on Turner Classic Movies on September 26. Produced as part of a three picture deal between star / producer Kay Francis and Monogram Pictures, this peculiar trilogy served as Miss Francis' Hollywood swan song. The other two films, DIVORCE (1945) and WIFE WANTED (1946) are both well-produced, better than average melodramas, but nowhere near as ambitious or entertaining as ALLOTMENT WIVES.

    What this film might lack in customary Hollywood sophistication it more than makes up for in gnarly pulp energy. Francis plays Sheila Seymour, a sleek and stylish society gal who in reality is the head of a noxious crime syndicate that preys mercilessly on returning World War II servicemen. They zero in on impressionable and lonely vets and before long they're engaged to one of Sheila's "girls." After pocketing the GI's allotment pay, the gals are soon on their way to their next mark, leaving a trail of devastated saps strewn along the post-war landscape. Things become emotionally complicated when Sheila's beautiful young daughter Corrine (Teala Loring) arrives home from her swanky boarding school (she's been oblivious to Mom's business dealings) and slowly begins to unravel the sordid details of her mother's dreadful criminal activities. Also in the cast are the wonderfully creepy Otto Kruger as Francis' odious partner in crime, the equally creepy Paul Kelly as a military investigator and the always menacing Gertrude Michael as one of Francis' old racket rivals who's out for a little revenge.

    In many ways this film bears more than a passing resemblance to the much tonier and more famous MILDRED PIERCE, released by Warner Bros the same year. But ALLOTMENT WIVES gets the nasty tone of noir's tawdrier aspects better than Michael Curtiz' glossy soap opera. In fact, the crucial showdown scene between mother and daughter at the climax of ALLOTMENT WIVES plays out much more dramatically and, more importantly, realistically than the overwrought scenes between Joan Crawford and Ann Blyth.

    For those who enjoy their film noir a bit on the exotic side, ALLOTMENT WIVES is must viewing, especially for those with a predisposition for down and dirty, unpretentious poverty row entertainment.
  • Allotment Wives (1945)

    You might moan when you hear the official voice-over talking about the War Department's benefits program and such. But hang in there. The intro is brief, and it's kind interesting, and it sets up the main movie, which has a great hook: women marrying several absentee G.I. men at once so they can collect multiple benefits. Including big death benefits if the men never returned..

    This isn't a brilliant affair, but it's better than you'd expect. It has some mediocre acting and routine filming, but it also some some really good parts. The key is the story, and the way the investigator (one main man, a curious, underplayed part by an underused, quirky actor, Paul Kelly) does his job.

    The leading female is played by Kay Francis. Never heard of her? She was Warner Bros. number one actress for several years in the early 1930s. Yes, and yet has really no single film to point to that has held up as great (she did do an interesting George Cukor movie early in both of their careers). But she's terrific with this middling material, and feels like an undiscovered leading lady. There's a scene between her and her saucy daughter that ends in a slap that will remind you of a similar scene in "Mildred Pierce" a year later. But Francis is usually just likable, even as she runs a lucrative scheme right in front of the U.S. Gov't's nose.

    There are straight, great noir films with lesser plots, to tell the truth, but this one is filmed in a bright, flat way, with the camera often just sitting there as the actors go through their lines in the lights. Not that you need shadowy drama all the time, but drama, and a physical presence, and a higher sense of style and art. Director William Nigh has a whole slew of these B-movies to his name, and he is often too functional for his own good.
  • ksf-224 September 2021
    Kay Francis is stylish Sheila, who owns a salon. But the real money is in an organized money scam. Her girls marry (multiple) soldiers, pocketing their pay, money, and insurance payouts, and then move on to find another husband. The picture quality is a little rough... many of the faces and scenes are washed out, but it's so old, we're lucky to have it at all. The cops are onto the money scheme, and we follow that along. Sheila's daughter Connie (Teala Loring) is away at school, but when she comes home, she stirs things up pretty quickly. This one is okay.... runs almost like an episode of dragnet; we watch as the cops close in on the wrong activity. It also has some things in common with mildred pierce... when mom needs money, she comes up with a "sideline", and she smacks Connie to show her boundaries. At least the writers treat the cops respectfully in this one... in so many of those old films, either the cops are getting insulted, or bumbling and stumbling over their own feet. Directed by Bill Nigh, who had been directing silents right from the beginning. Story by sidney sutherland. I guess this one didn't go over too well... Francis only made one more film after this one.
  • "Allotment Wives" was the second to last movie that Kay Francis made. She co-produced this and a couple other films at Monogram Studios after her falling out with the major Hollywood studios. She went into retirement the next year, and only made a couple appearance in TV series in 1950 and 1951. The one-time leading actress at MGM and Warner Brothers lived her last 15 years in seclusion and died of cancer in 1968 at 63 years of age.

    In this film, Francis plays a tough as nails, hard-hearted head of a syndicate that swindles the U. S. government. Sheila Seymour's network has numerous women who marry several servicemen during World War II, to rake in their allotments and insurance payments for those who are killed. She has a front of an exclusive women's beauty salon, as well as a canteen she set up for GIs, sailors and Marines. She also has a daughter who has spent most of her life in an exclusive boarding school. Otto Kruger is Whitey Colton, who is Sheila's top aide and boyfriend, and his boys handle the dirty work when they need to rub somebody out.

    The War Department's Office of Dependency Benefits (ODB) has been trying to catch and break up the organized crime network. They send Col. Peter Martin to head up the job. Paul Kelly plays Martin and operates from his former newspaper job on a Los Angeles paper. The feds aren't too sharp and Sheila's gang get wise to Kelly quickly. But a rebellious daughter, Connie (played by Teala Loring), and an old juvenile delinquent from Sheila's reformatory past - Gladys Smith (played by Gertrude Michael) lead to Sheila's downfall.

    The acting is fair but nothing great. It's an interesting plot and unusual story about the ODB - the only movie I know of that ever even mentioned such a wartime agency and service for dependents. While there no doubt were many abuses of the ODB program - most of those would be quickie marriages of guys in uniform, so that women could receive benefits, and insurance payments for those men killed in the war, it's doubtful there was anything like the network in this picture. Each GI had his own serial number, and even without computers, the human work of records filing would have caught women who married more than one GI. Then, to have a ring coordinating and putting this all together would be quite far-fetched.

    At the very least, this film has something about a little known wartime agency for dependent families of men in WW II service. And, it's a good, and quite different look at Kay Francis at the end of her acting career. Here's a good exchange of dialog between Sheila and Whitey when she finds out who Peter Martin is.

    Sheila, "Maybe I better cultivate him. Might be amusing. And, might help our information file." Whitey, "Might help his too. You're a fool if you go sticking your pretty neck out." Sheila, "I'm never a fool. And only geese stick their necks out."
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is an unusual film for Monogram Pictures since it actually has a few relatively big-name actors--something you don't usually see from a 3rd rate studio like this one. Kay Francis, Otto Kruger and Paul Kelly actually bolster the film with their decent performances--otherwise, the film probably wouldn't be seen or noticed today.

    The plot is odd and I wonder if the problem discussed in the film was real. According to ALLOTMENT WIVES, there was a lot of fraud during WWII, as women would quickly marry G.I.s just so they can get their monthly allotment checks. Some of these women even married multiple times under a variety of names in order to make a huge killing by cheating the system!!

    Kelly is a Colonel in the army and is asked to go undercover to determine who is at the heart of this scam. In other words, these are not isolated cases but are part of an organized crime network. Now considering that Kay Francis is in the film, it's not hard to guess that she's the evil genius behind the scam and this is revealed rather early in the film--thus taking away much of the element of surprise. However, subplots involving a lady named Gloria and Francis' on-screen daughter are mildly interesting and keep the film moving--but don't expect much magic or excitement. It's a better than average Monogram film, but considering that this studio was known for creating crap, that isn't saying much. It's watchable and interesting but that's about all.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The ravishing Kay Francis gives her all in this intriguing World War II era film noir where as a well respected wealthy widow, she turns out to be the head of a racket involving canteen hostesses conning servicemen into a quicky marriage to get their allotment checks. Raising a Veda Pierce like teenage girl (Teala Loring), she finds out that the fed's (lead by Paul Kelly) are closing in, dealing with an old con-artist pal (Gertrude Michael) with blackmail on her mind, and this leads the secretly tough talking Francis to contemplate taking drastic measures.

    It's the terrific performance of Kay Francis in one of her last films (and a trio of Monogram programmers), surrounded by a sensational supporting cast, which makes this above average and a bit of a cult classic. This seems to be utilizing a standing set on the Warner Brothers lot (best known for "Auntie Mame") for Francis's mansion, or at least an extraordinary facsimile. Otto Kruger is very good as Francis's right-hand man, and Michael is memorable as the tough talking old pal who pays dearly for being the key to her downfall. But without the amusing tough script, this would be just another racket film. Francis commanded a terrific wardrobe and production design which makes for above average Monogram.
  • bnwfilmbuff8 June 2020
    Paul Kelly is put in charge of exposing and terminating the organization that is masterminding bigamy schemes that fraudulently get access to allotment benefit funds to provide for wives and children of servicemen. Kay Francis is the head of the notorious syndicate and Otto Kruger is her henchman. That would seem to be the main plot but competing with it is Kay Francis' concern for her wild college aged daughter who is running amok. Then there is Gertrude Michael trying to blackmail Kay based on some issue from their past. Not to mention the romantic situation between Kay and Kruger or Kelly's interest in Kay. An 80 minute movie leaves us unsatisfied in allowing enough time for developing the main plot let alone these subplots. The end result is a threadbare flick with a superficial expose of the allotment wife issue. This movie was part of a three movie package that Kay signed with Monogram that you'll note also gave her credit as Producer and essentially marked the end of Kay's fabulous career. While far from her best outing her movies are all worth viewing. Kruger and Kelly were excellent in support. Disappointing but still entertaining.
  • This was an enjoyable, yet unremarkable, film that deals with a racket of women who marry multiple servicemen in order to collect their allotment benefit checks. It all seems like a rather elaborate way to earn a buck, and easily traceable. Playing the leader of the syndicate is actress Kay Francis in her final role. In the mid '30s she was under a Warner contract and was reportedly the highest paid actress in the world. But unfortunately by the end of that decade she had gotten the reputation of 'box office poison' and she had to finish her career in poverty row b movies like this one. The film also features Otto Kruger who plays his usual suave gentleman villain part, he is number 2 behind Francis at the top of the scheme. Walk, don't run to this one.
  • bkoganbing13 January 2014
    Allotment Wives has Kay Francis toiling for Monogram Pictures and running a special kind of clip joint racket tailored to servicemen. The hostesses are to seduce and marry lonely GIs and get those allotment checks should the servicemen be killed. Quite a cute little racket and the Army has sent Paul Kelly in to investigate and he's going under the guise of a newspaper reporter covering a story about how we're seeing the comforts of our men in uniform.

    Her partner in crime is Otto Kruger and Kay has unfortunately one bitter enemy from when she was serving time in Gertrude Michael. Kay also has an Achilles heel and it's her daughter Teala Loring. Kay's sent her to an exclusive college and she's kept her business a secret from Loring. But the daughter has proved to be a wild child and I don't think I need go further.

    For a Monogram film it's not bad and Francis, Kelly, and Kruger do deliver good performances. And certainly the topic was a timely one. Many women got widow's windfalls as a result of a hurried romance during wartime. It's just that Kay is putting it on an organized basis.

    Still though the production values are typical Monogram, practically non-existent. The film is quite a come down from when Kay Francis was a big name at Paramount and later Warner Brothers.
  • Tough, Hard-Boiled "Social" Crime Drama from Low-Rent Monogram Pictures. This is one of Their Betters. Starring on the Skids, but not quite on Skid-Row, Kay Francis and the Always Reliable Paul Kelly with some, had been a Star, but not quite a Has-Been Support, from Otto Kruger as what else, a Snakey, but in the End more than just a Bad Guy.

    It has its Moments of Violence, Melodrama, and Social Commentary and is a Rather Engaging piece of Noirish Business. That of Unscrupulous Women Marrying Military Types by the Handful for not Love but Money. The Head of this 'Syndicate" is a Woman Herself (Miss Francis) who has a Daughter that Figures in quite Heavily in this Heavy Handedness.

    There are some Memorable Scenes in Bedrooms, Staircases, and Prison Cells that would seem to Fit Easily into Film-Noir, but its Flat and Less than Creative Style, mostly Overlit and Pedestrian, that keeps this one Barely Eligible, but does manage in the End to have Enough of what it Takes to be a Contender.
  • Interesting story with the smartest and toughest characters being women. Kay is in charge of a crime syndicate running a scam of pimping women out to marry multiple soldiers for their allotment money. Doing it so her daughter can have a better life, sorta like a crooked Mildred Pierce. Another tough, strong women tries to horn in on her business by blackmail. I loved the scenes between the two of them politely threatening each other and their final confrontation, reminiscent of many gangster scenes between male characters. Kay plays cold blooded and ruthless very well and is completely in charge of her gang. Very un 40's like that no one questions her authority or makes mention of the fact she's a woman running the show. Ahead of it's time feminist slant. Investigators seemed a bit dim witted and slow getting to the truth but I guess that's a testament to her abilities.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This has to be one of the few Monogram releases I've reviewed and that's only because Kay Francis rounded out her career on Poverty Row. Francis is an actress I've heard described in glowing, nay, reverential terms all my life but seldom, if ever, seen on screen. I came close when I saw - and loved - the remake, with George Brent and Merle Oberon, of the Kay Francis/William Powell bittersweet One-Way Passage. From what I've read she was, during the thirties, Warners top actress but then they cut her loose and she struck a deal to produce and star in three movies at Monogram after which she rode into the sunset. Allotment Wives is the only one of the three I've seen and she is, apparently, cast against type as a heavy, the honcho of a ring of scammers who use a USO type club to set servicemen up with women prepared to marry them and then claim their allotment. Paul Kelly is tapped to break up the racket and it all ends in tears with Francis getting one of the all-time great last lines on celluloid; 'nice shooting' she says to the guy who has just placed a slug where it will do the most good. Class to the end.
  • The premise was very interesting: trying to find and stop the many women who marry multiple soldiers for their allotment checks. The result was a little disappointing, and frankly, odd. Without the opening scene explaining the problem, the movie wouldn't be about the allotment wives at all. It's just a gangster picture with a sob story of motherhood thrown in for Kay Francis. I don't know why she made a career of playing sacrificing mothers; she didn't ever come across as one to me.

    Anyway, the actual plot is about Kay Francis as the head of a crime syndicate. She has two groups under her belt: one is the ring of women who marry multiple soldiers, and the other is an old cronies network of scary men with guns. They help embezzle the money, forge paperwork, and make sure no one gets caught. The women continually make mistakes and cause trouble for the men to cover up. So, they're always just shy of getting caught. Is it really worth all the hassle? As Dana Andrews says in The Best Years of Our Lives, "If you don't use this, you won't need that to take it off." Kay's motherhood woe is also quite boring: she's hiding her identity from her daughter because she wants her to be respectable. The false tears and melodrama fit with neither the gangsters nor the wartime atmosphere.
  • mossgrymk15 February 2022
    In my opinion this is Kay Francis' worst post "Paradise" performance and that's saying something since this lovely, stylish gal's bleak, fourteen year long goodbye makes the decline of the Roman Empire a pool party by comparison. What can one say? The eyes, the mouth, the body, all are lifeless. Even the patented lisp has faded, as if to say, "Why bother when no one's listening?" It's worse than phoning it in. It's more like not having the energy even to lift the freakin receiver. As another famous has been is fond of saying, "Sad".
  • AAdaSC16 September 2016
    Society lady Kay Francis (Mrs Seymour) runs a canteen for servicemen during WW2 as well as a beauty parlour. Both these businesses are a front for her real money-maker which is marrying off women to servicemen to then collect their allocated pay as a war wife and also to cash in on the insurance if the servicemen die. Women are encouraged to marry several men at a time. One victim of this scam is the friend of Colonel Paul Kelly (Pete Martin) so Kelly agrees to go undercover to smash this organized criminal gang.

    This film is OK with a good performance by Kay at the centre of things and her sidekick Otto Kruger (Whitey) also does well as the chief heavy. The syndicate leader from Texas Matty Fain (Moranto) also plays his gangster role well. However, the film slips into sentimentality with Kay's teenage daughter Teala Loring (Connie) and the film slows in these sections and gets a bit boring. Another downfall is casting Paul Kelly as the man to crack the case. He can't act.

    The sound quality isn't too good but you can live with it – there's a background hissing. Allotment wives has nothing to do with gardening as the title suggests – it could have been a film about women meeting at their allotments and engaging in gossip. I'm grateful that it's not about that and I feel I've learnt something about the times depicted. Never crossed my mind that this sort of thing went on.
  • I love movies made in the 1940's esp. Noir type movies. This particular movie, Allotment Wives, was being shown years ago at an extremely limited engagement at the Roxie Theatre in San Francisco, California. I had to miss going to see the show, and I've regretted it ever since. I'd love to see this film. I love movies like The Best Years of Our Lives, So Proudly We Hail, Stage Door Canteen, The Red House, Detour, Mildred Pierce, Air Force, Citizen Kane, White Heat, High Sierra, Dark Passage, 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, etc. I hate to think I would go to my grave without seeing Allotment Wives. Do they show it on late night TV? How can I see this? If you have any ideas, I would be grateful to you, fellow Noir aficionados.