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Thirteen Women


And one of them is mean ol’ Myrna Loy.

Rod Lott March 8th, 2012

Not to be confused with the subject of a teenager’s wet dream, 1932’s Thirteen Women is a David O. Selznick production that plays like a precursor to Sorority Row. In it, the evil-eyebrowed Ursula Georgi (Myrna Loy) works a secretary for the New York-based Swami Yogadachi (C. Henry Gordon, 1932’s Scarface) and — this is a stretch — alters the horoscopes he sends to her dozen former sorority sisters so that convinces them of impending death, either of someone close or their own.

thirteenwomen

First, a circus performer’s trapeze act goes awry, killing her sister. Then a housewife stabs her hubby for no good reason. A horoscope of "You will not live until Christmas. You will meet death at your own hands” causes one woman to down a drink of “lemonade with bitters,” then turn a gun on herself. The press rightfully dub the events as “the horoscope murders.”

The swami himself succumbs as he "falls" in front of the subway train, but Ursula meets her match in well-to-do Laura Stanhope (Irene Dunne, The Awful Truth), whose family survives the box of poisoned candy and one full of dynamite.

Making its DVD debut courtesy of Warner Archive, Thirteen Women isn’t quite a blast, but for a 59-minute thriller, it’s awfully tough to get bored by it. The proto-slasher storyline is solid enough to keep the film afloat for so little time, and once revealed, Urusla’s raison d'etre is a howler by today’s standards.

The real kick, of course, is seeing Loy play loathsome, just two years before she would earn permanent American sweetheart status as Nora Charles, half of The Thin Man’s detecting duo. —Rod Lott


 
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