2 July 2012 | blanche-2
conflict of interests
Constance Bennett is the "Smart Woman" in this 1948 film, and Brian Aherne is the attorney on the opposite side who falls in love with her.
Due to a corrupt political machine, the DA (Otto Kruger) has refused to indict on several cases. For that reason, a special prosecutor, Robert Larrimore (Aherne) is brought in. Larrimore and attorney Paula Rogers (Bennett) face off in court, and Larrimore falls for her right away and begins dating her. When the DA is killed, mobster Frank McCoy (Barry Sullivan) is arrested, and he appeals to Paula to help him. Larrimore will be trying for the state, and Paula has reason to fear that the situation will hurt their relationship.
This is a pretty good movie, though it's easy to figure out Paula's problems very early on. The cast is good, with a mix of '30s stars like Aherne, Bennett, Kruger, character actors like James Gleason and John Eldredge, as well as '40s newcomers Sullivan and O'Shea (who married Virginia Mayo).
The film was produced by Bennett herself, who was no longer the big star she had been in the '30s, thanks to now being 43 years old. The supporting roles for her had started in 1940 with "Two-Faced Woman," when she was 36. Fortunately things are better for women now, but age has always been a huge issue for women in Hollywood. Bennett, a luminous beauty in the '30s, is a good example. Bennett was an excellent businesswoman, and her reputation for glamor served her well in her cosmetics business and also a clothing business. She worked tirelessly during the war effort and, married to a general, entertained the troops who stayed overseas after WW II (she was an accomplished singer). She also did a nightclub act.
"Smart Woman" is not as good as Bennett's other production, Paris Underground, but it's serviceable.