Ladies they Talk About (1933)
Barbara Stanwyck stars as a gangster’s moll imprisoned for aiding and abetting a bank robbery and the stodgy Preston Foster as the evangelical reformer who falls in love with her. Stanwyck is predictably brilliant, and even Preston Foster’s enormous and largely expressionless face doesn’t dampen the proceedings too much. Surprisingly, Lilian Roth is great as Stanwyck’s prison pal, contributing a sweet rendition of “If I Could be with You One Hour Tonight” crooned lovingly to a fan photo of Joe E. Brown. I say ‘surprisingly’ because the only other memorable role of Roth’s that I’m aware of is her turn in Animal Crackers (1930) in which she maddeningly pronounces ‘suicide’ ‘see-yoo-ee-side.’ Also in the supporting cast is Lyle Talbot, probably best known for his turns in the Batman and Robin (1949) serial and his roles in Ed Wood’s notorious Glen or Glenda (1953) and Plan Nine from Outer Space (1959), although he is in just about everything, including The Gene Autry Show, Commander Cody, Dick Tracy, and that episode of the Jack Benny show when the Maxwell is stolen and Jack and Rochester report the theft to the swanky Beverly Hills police department.
Anyway, Ladies They Talk About is a cracking good melodrama with Stanwyck giving a top-notch performance as a sneering anti-social b-word who rejects (and resents) every opportunity for forgiveness and redemption until the very end. You can get it from Warner Archives as part of a ‘Forbidden Hollywood set that also includes Miss Pinkerton (1932), Hard to Handle (1933) and The Mind Reader (1933).