The Lady Gambles (1949) is a English movie. Michael Gordon has directed this movie. Barbara Stanwyck,Robert Preston,Stephen McNally,Edith Barrett are the starring of this movie. It was released in 1949. The Lady Gambles (1949) is considered one of the best Drama,Film-Noir movie in India and around the world.
When Joan Boothe accompanies husband-reporter David to Las Vegas, she begins gambling to pass the time while he is doing a story. Encouraged by the casino manager, she gets hooked on gambling, to the point where she "borrows" David's expense money to pursue her addiction. This finally breaks up their marriage, but David continues trying to help her.
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What is the most remarkable thing about this film? Well, the answer is simple. It is Miss Stanwyck's film, hands down. In one of her best performances of her later years, Barbara Stanwyck plays an emotionally distraught woman who is tortured by her deep-ridden "guilt" of having killed her mother during childbirth. It is part of an insecurity she has carried with her all her life, which finally reveals itself through gambling, a highly risky and dangerous venture into which she falls one day in Las Vegas. At first it starts out innocent. She is a curious woman who observes people and games in the casino. But when she decides to risk her own money to have some fun, she instantly throws herself into a bottomless pit from which she cannot escape. Gambling is indeed a deadly addiction, and Joan Boothe slowly destroys herself as well as those around her - husband, sister and business partners - by her unstoppable vice. As the film progresses, so does Stanwyck, who convincingly portrays a woman who tries to fight her disease only to fall deeper into it. One scene in particular is especially notable - it is a scene in which she confronts the call of gambling after a time of ease and relaxation with her husband in the Mexican coast. She comes across an old acquaintance she knew back in Las Vegas, and she rides out the storm at first by running home after realizing that she has thrown her friend's dice for him - and enjoyed it. Upon returning home she nervously starts to iron and organize clothes, when her eyes glance at the money box in the drawer. She doesn't touch it, but an ongoing internal battle is implicit. How Stanwyck does it is not fully explainable, but it is in moments like this that you realize just how much of an actress she really is. She is exquisite, versatile, pleasantly professional - definitely among the very best at her craft.
Stanwyck's was a curious career. The highest-paid woman in pictures -- actually, in America -- for a while, she made her share of workaday, forgettable pictures. The Lady Gambles is among them, except that it stars Stanwyck. Married to Robert Preston, a reporter doing a feature on Las Vegas, she agrees to help out by getting in on the action. Soon, she's hooked, playing recklessly and compulsively even as her marriage is disintegrating. There's one brutal scene when she's beaten up by thugs in an alley -- not a scene often filmed with a top actress as victim. The film has a historical interest as one of the first to be set in that new Babylon in the desert, Las Vegas. (In the 30s, the only Nevada location was Reno; Vegas was still a chicken run.) Despite its semi-documentary approach, The Lady Gambles sustains interest; as a look at abnormal gambling, it's better than Gambling House (with Victor Mature) or The Las Vegas Story (with Mitchum and Jane Russell).
It is very evident that Barbara Stanwyck was able to adapt to any sort of role or character in each of her pictures. In this one, she plays a businessman's wife who becomes addicted to gambling after a trip to Las Vegas. This isn't a bad character study, and probably one of the earliest ones dealing with this sort of obsession. It is also interesting to see how the Vegas strip looked in over 50 years ago. A young, unknown Tony Curtis has a cameo as a bell boy.
Despite some of the reviews here that characterize TLG as trite and dated, I only thought this film was a directorial surprise, way ahead of its time for 1949. First you start with a flashback by Preston's character that isn't quite a flashback, because we are more interested in who this man is and what the circumstances of his plight are, than the past per se. Virtually all Hollywood flashbacks seem to involve some grand police confession or some need to explain the confessor (such as "D.O.A.")but the flashback here seems to add to the convolutedness of the characters, and the surrealism of the situation. Does Preston really understand his wife? If so when? The flashback reminds us that there is more to explain than the "what",but also the "why" which neither Preston nor the audience yet understand (gambling is a disease, but the matter of guilt and personal responsibility for misdeeds remain open). More convolutedness in the photography. Carefully cropped chest-up body shots, with swirling camera movements amid authentic but claustrophobic interiors. Remember, only Max Ophuls was supposed to have done this sort of thing at the time! I remember "Leaving Las Vegas" attempted the same themes in slightly different ways (misery and anomie in a spectacular setting) but that was a miserable film. Finally you have a not so sweet resolution to depict insanity, but in a much subtler way than "The Snake Pit" and other entries in the growing body of 'social consciousness' films. Stanwyck was a tough-soft actress, and the scenes where she rolls before a throng a gamblers rarely came tougher in her films. A work to just watch.
Barbara Stanwyck is surely one of the greatest actresses ever in motion pictures but THE LADY GAMBLES is one of her lesser works despite a sincere, empathic performance by the star. This movie seems to want to be the gambling version of THE LOST WEEKEND but it's more like the lost 100 minutes , the time the viewer wastes watching this picture. Even the charismatic Stanwyck can't prevent this heavy-handed drama from being a chore to watch. Stanwyck stars as the wife of newspaper journalist Robert Preston. They are in Las Vegas while he covers a story. Stanwyck decides to try to do an article herself on the gambling scene but her somewhat indiscreet camera work catches the eye of casino manager Stephen McNally who decides to let her play with valueless chips so she can be at the tables for her research. Trouble is Stanwyck finds she likes the tables a little too much and when McNally decides to put a plug in the playing for nothing, she dives into Preston's expense account and loses it all in a night. McNally, clearly attracted to Stanwyck from first sight, gives her $50 to play with out of pity after she has even hawked her expensive Swiss camera and being the good player she is Stanwyck actually wins her money back. But the lure of the tables is too strong and she keeps going back. And back. And losing. Ultimately destroying her marriage, she eventually joins forces with McNally in some of his questionably legal activities and later hits earthier lows in pursuit of lady luck where one seedy guy after another tells her to "kiss 'em for me baby" as she rolls the dice. The movie is told in flashback as Stanwyck is hospitalized having been beat up by gamblers when she is caught dealing in a back alley crap game with loaded dice. Estranged husband Preston rushes to her side and tells the doctor the whole sad story. The usually dependable Preston is one of the weakest links in the film; his character is alternately a milquetoast and a control freak but is at all times presented as Stanwyck's prince charming. Preston's performance is no help either, his rather theatrical delivery seems inappropriate for this attempt at "slice of life" drama; worse, in an amazingly unwise decision he speaks to the doctor in anguished troubled tones and then his narration over the past scenes is spoken with enthusiasm and dramatic flair! Stephen McNally fares much better as the intimidating Vegas big shot, his scenes with Stanwyck have considerable bite and are the film's highlight. The worst thing about the film is the jaw-dropping pop psychology that attempts to explain away Stanwyck's gambling. It's because of her possessive older sister Edith Barrett!!! With her mother dying during childbirth, Stanwyck was "raised" by older (eight years, although Barrett was actually just six months older than Stanwyck) sister who has never let Barbara forget the sacrifices in her personal life she has made for her. Hero Preston seems frankly as controlling but since he is her husband, presumably that's OK with the screenwriters. The sister-is-the-root theory is interesting considering (A) Preston is hostile to the sister and her relationship with Barbara long before the gambling starts, (B) the gambling doesn't even start until Stanwyck is clearly into her thirties and (C) the sister is no where around to cause anxiety when most of the gambling binges occur!! But then what can you expect of reason from a film where a doctor attempts reverse psychology, encouraging a patient on a building ledge to jump!! Barbara Stanwyck is always worth watching, her progression from dabbler to desperate is quite credible but even her solid work here can't save a movie that plays like a 1940's version of a 1970's half-baked "social issue" TV movie. Two stars going in opposite directions are also in the cast: newcomer Tony Curtis has an early bit part as a bellhop and 30's leading man Leif Erickson can be seen in a small role as one of McNally's questionable cohorts. Is this picture worth checking out? Well, it's your gamble.