Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||George Archainbaud|
|Produced by||David O. Selznick|
|Music by||Max Steiner|
|Editing by||Charles L. Kimball|
|Distributed by||RKO Radio Pictures|
|Release dates||September 16, 1932
September 14, 1935 (re-release)
|Running time||73 minutes (orig.) / 59 min.|
Thirteen Women (1932) is a psychological thriller film, produced by David O. Selznick and directed by George Archainbaud. It starred Myrna Loy, Irene Dunne, Ricardo Cortez, Florence Eldridge and Jill Esmond. Several characters were deleted, including those played by Leon Ames, Phyllis Fraser, and Betty Furness (in what would have been her film debut at the age of 16). The film portrays only 11 women, not 13, with Fraser and Furness playing the two characters edited out of the film.
This film features the only role of Peg Entwistle, who gained notoriety after her body was found below the Hollywood sign weeks before the film's release (police surmised suicide). The film premiered in October at the Roxy Theater in New York City, then released in Los Angeles, and a few other cities in November. A limited national release came in 1933.
Originally running seventy-three minutes, the studio edited fourteen minutes out of the picture prior to release. The film was re-released in 1935 (post-Code) by RKO, hoping to turn a profit by cashing in on the growing popularity of stars Dunne and Loy. Thirteen Women has been cited as an early "female ensemble" film.
Thirteen women, friends who were members of a girl's college sorority, all write to a clairvoyant "swami" (C. Henry Gordon) who by mail sends each a horoscope foreseeing swift doom. However, the clairvoyant is under the sway of Ursula Georgi (Myrna Loy), a half-Javanese Eurasian woman who when a student at the college was snubbed by the other women owing to her mixed-race heritage. Georgi seeks revenge by tricking the women into killing themselves or each other. She also goads the clairvoyant into killing himself by falling into the path of a subway train.
The victims are set up and killed off one by one until only Laura Stanhope (Irene Dunne), living in Beverly Hills, is still alive. With the help of Laura's chauffeur and lover (played by Edward J. Pawley), Ursula tries to kill Laura's young son, Bobby, with both tainted candy and an explosive rubber ball, but is thwarted. Ursula then follows Laura and Bobby as they flee Beverly Hills by train, unaware that police sergeant Barry Clive (Ricardo Cortez) is escorting them. After confronting Laura, and apparently hypnotizing her into falling asleep, Ursula enters Bobby's room and is caught by Clive. She then flees to the back of the train and jumps to her own death.
Adaptation from book
The character Hazel Cousins as played by Peg Entwistle in the film is married, kills her husband and goes to prison. In the book, Hazel is a lesbian who is seduced by (in Thayer's words) a "dyke" married to a lung doctor. Hazel has tuberculosis and starves herself to death in a sanitarium while suffering the heartache of having been abandoned by her lover Martha. In both the book and movie, May and June Raskob (played by Harriet Hagman and Mary Duncan) are twin sisters who work in a circus, but in book they are overweight side show attractions, rather than photogenic trapeze artists as in the film.
- Irene Dunne as Laura Stanhope
- Ricardo Cortez as Police Sergeant Barry Clive
- Jill Esmond as Jo Turner
- Myrna Loy as Ursula Georgi
- Mary Duncan as June Raskob
- Kay Johnson as Helen Dawson Frye
- Florence Eldridge as Grace Coombs
- C. Henry Gordon as Swami Yogadachi
- Peg Entwistle as Hazel Clay Cousins
- Harriet Hagman as May Raskob
- Edward Pawley as Burns, Laura's chauffeur
- Blanche Friderici as Miss Kirsten, headmistress
- Wally Albright as young Robert Stanhope (Bobby)
- Phyllis Fraser as Twelfth Woman (scenes deleted)
- Betty Furness as Thirteenth Woman (scenes deleted)