This Woman is Dangerous (1952): Crime Film Noir, Joan Crawford’s Worst Film?

Joan Crawford herself considers This Woman Is Dangerous, a trashy film noir, to be one of her very worst pictures (and admittedly she made many bad ones).

Our Grade: D (* out of *****)

Her last film while under contract at Warner, this crime meller was directed by Felix E. Feist, from a script by Geoffrey Homes and George Worthung Yates, based on a story by Bernard Girard.

The tale is a routine, tiresome melodrama about a triangle, a gun moll’s romances with two different men. Crawford is paired again with leading men who are second bananas: the likable Dennis Morgan and the less likable David Brian.

Crawford plays Beth Austin, the head of a hold-up gang and the mistress of its most cold-blooded killer Matt Jackson (David Brian).

Tale is set in New Orleans, where they rob a casino by impersonating police officer. After taking $90,000, she tells Matt that she has suffered from failing eyesight and needs to travel to an eye clinic in Indiana to have an operation. Matt promises to lie low until she returns. Quite expectedly, Beth and her surgeon, Ben Halleck (Dennis Morgan, fall in love.

Jackson, suspicious of his mistress’s lengthy recovery, sends private eye to investigate. Beth breaks off her relationship with the doctor, hoping to dissuade Jackson from committing murder.

Jackson is shot by the FBI before killing Jackson, and in an absurd hppy ending, Beth faces a brighter future with the doctor after serving time in prison.

Jack Warner offered Crawford the role hoping the star would turn it down so that he could put her on suspension. That was also the reason he offered the surgeon’s role to Dennis Morgan, whose appeal had diminished after WWII. To Warner’s surprise, both stars accepted the film.

Leaving Warner, Crawford began a new chapter in her career with the noir Sudden Fear, on which she served as exec producer.  It was a box office hit, garnering Crawford an Oscar nod, and leading to other popular indies, such as Nicholas Ray’s Western Johnny Guitar and Autumn Leaves. directed by Robert Aldrich, who in 1962 made the classic horror, What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? Opposite Bette Davis in their only film together.


This Woman Is Dangerous was presented on Lux Radio Theatre on March 16, 1953, as one-hour adaptation, starring Virginia Mayo (in the Crawford role), and Dennis Morgan reprising his role.

Joan Crawford as Elizabeth ‘Beth’ Austin
Dennis Morgan as Dr. Ben Halleck
David Brian as Matt Jackson
Richard Webb as James A. Franklin
Mari Aldon as Ann Jackson
Philip Carey as Will Jackson
Ian MacDonald as Joe Grossland, Private Eye
Katherine Warren as Mrs. Millican, Dr. Halleck’s Nurse
George Chandler as Dr. Bill Ryan




Running time: 100 Minutes

Release date: February 28, 1952

End Note:

TCM is showing the film quite often; I caught a presentation on December 30, 2017.