Cover Image of Front Page Woman

Front Page Woman (1935) By The Numbers

I’m starting a new category today for a slew of upcoming blog posts where I analyze a specific movie and break it down “by the numbers”. This gives us a chance to discuss the film as the sum total of all its parts.

The first movie to roll out By The Numbers, is the mystery comedy, Front Page Woman, starring Bette Davis, George Brent and Roscoe Karns, directed by Michael Curtiz, written by Laird Doyle, Lillie Hayward, and Roy Chanslor from a story by Richard Macaulay and photographed by Tony Gaudio.

Front Page Woman Film Noir Mystery
Mystery Comedy called, “Front Page Woman”

I have just recently discovered this fantastic little mystery, and I was surprised at how engaging it was. Not only is it a great little comedy but a fine little who-done-it, to boot. It’s a shame that Bette Davis and George Brent didn’t do more of these types of battle of the sexes comedies more often as they are a charismatic pair, for sure. The New York Times said, “The three writers who adapted it . . . did a clever script job and Michael Curtiz directed at a brisk pace. Add to that a cast with a neat sense of comedy and you have an excellent tonic for the mid-July doldrums.” Reminds me of the glorious Tracey-Hepburn and Powell-Loy films…and it’s no wonder that George Brent and Bette Davis would go on to make 11 films together, most of them, dramas!

So Big! (1932)
The Rich Are Always with Us (1932)
Housewife (1934)
Front Page Woman (1935)
Special Agent (1935)
The Golden Arrow (1936)
Jezebel (1938)
Dark Victory (1939)
The Old Maid (1939)
The Great Lie (1941)
In This Our Life (1942)

Bette Davis signed a contract with Warner Bros in 1932 and stayed with the studio for 18 years! Warner Bros was a movie factory back then, just pumping up the box office with film after film. Warner Bros would release 53 films the year Front Page Woman was released in 1935! Bette Davis was in 5 of them in 1935, which is crazy as actors today do 1 or 2 a year on average and leading actors will do 1 every two years these days. Here’s a list of the five movies she made in 1935:

Front Page Woman (1935)
Special Agent (1935)
Border Town (1935)
Girl From 10th Avenue (1935)
Dangerous (1935)

Bette Davis in Front Page Woman

Bette Davis, over her lifetime, would be nominated for 11 Academy Awards, winning the first of two of her Oscars in 1935 with her role in Dangerous. Her other Oscar would be for Jezebel (1938).

In contrast, George Brent would release 7 films in 1935:

Bette Davis George Brent in Front Page Woman
Bette Davis and George Brent Would Star in 11 Films Together

Whereas Bette Davis and George Brent loved working together, Bette and director Michael Curtiz hated working together. And yet they would work together 7 times. She felt he concentrated too much on the camera and not enough with the actors, especially her. Their movies together are:

The Cabin in the Cotton (1932)
20,000 Years in Sing Sing (1932)
Jimmy The Gent (1934)

Front Page Woman (1935)
Marked Woman (1937)
Kid Galahad (1937)
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

No one would deny that Curtiz knew his stuff as a director, although. He had an incredible track record for making the finest films and working with the finest actors. He directed 102 films and after being accused by Bette Davis as not being an actor’s director, would see 10 actors nominated for Oscars under his direction. He directed some truly classic feature films including Charge of the Light Brigade, Adventures of Robin Hood, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Casablanca, and White Christmas. He was so good that he would end up with 4 Academy Award nominations and the 1 win for Casablanca in 1944 (although, he won another Oscar for directing a short film, The Sons of Liberty, in 1939).

Bette Davis and Michael Curtiz
Strangely Enough, Here’s a Picture of Michael Curtiz Directing Bette Davis

In 1935 alone he would direct an unfathomable (is that a word?) 6 movies! That blows my mind when you think a director takes 2-3 years on average to make 1 film. A busy director now-a-days makes 2 a year at most. Here’s a list of the films he directed in 1935:

Black Fury (1935)
The Case of the Curious Bride (1935)
Go Into Your Dance (1935)
Front Page Woman (1935)
Little Big Shot (1935)
Captain Blood (1935)

Cinematographer Tony Gaudio had a good relationship with Michael Curtiz and would photograph 3 of Michael Curtiz’s films in 1935 along with 5 more movies! These people are studio workhorses! He was also a favorite of Bette Davis and worked with her on 11 films, just like George Brent! He would end up with 6 Academy Award nominations and a win for Anthony Adverse in 1936.

His films in 1935 are:

Bordertown (1935) with Bette Davis
The White Cockapoo (1935)
Go Into Your Dance (1935) with Michael Curtiz
Oil For the Lamps of China (1935) with screenwriter Laird Doyle
Front Page Woman (1935) *Everyone in Article
Little Big Shot (1935) with Michael Curtiz
Case of the Lucky Legs (1935)
Dr. Socrates (1935)

Lobby Cards for Front Page Woman
Front Page Woman Lighted and Photographed by Tony Gaudio

You can start to see the numbers…it gets staggering when you think about all the connections! But we’re not done yet!

The next member of the circle, going by the numbers is screenwriter Laird Doyle, who would write 6 films produced by Warner Bros in 1935, and a total of 4 of the 5 made with Bette Davis! It goes without saying that Bette Davis loved working with his material and would go on to win the Oscar with a role in his script, Dangerous, by the end of the year. He would have done amazing things, I’m sure, but sadly shortly thereafter, died suddenly in a plane crash in 1936. The screenplays he wrote in 1935 were:

Bordertown (1935) Davis, Gaudio
Front Page Woman (1935) All
Special Agent (1935) Davis, Brent
Dangerous (1935) Davis
Oil For the Lamps of China (1935) Gaudio
Stars Over Broadway (1935)

Roscoe Karns Bette Davis and George Brent
Roscoe Karns, Joins the Crack Reporters Bette Davis and George Brent in the Murder Mystery, Front Page Woman

Last but not least in the circle by the numbers is one of the finest character actors to ever grace the silver screen…Roscoe Karns. An extremely prolific actor with close to 150 movies and over 300 TV episodes to his name. Roscoe made 6 films in 1935:

Front Page Woman (1935)
Wings in the Dark (1935)
Red Hot Tires (1935)
Four Hours to Kill (1935)
Alibi Ike (1935)
Two Fisted (1935)

To me, he’s a special case because he’s in or connected to 4 of my all time favorite movies:

It Happened One Night (1934)
His Girl Friday (1940)
Woman of the Year (1942)

…and his son Todd Karns plays James Stewart’s Brother in:

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Todd Karns also plays Roscoe Karns’s Detective partner in Rocky King, Detective.

Roscoe Karns Myrna Loy Cary Grant
Roscoe Karns, Myrna Loy and Cary Grant in Wings in the Dark (1935)

So, there we go by the numbers– it’s all about connections and how all these amazing filmmakers, actors and writers are all linked, making some of the finest films ever made. If you are not a big watcher of black and white films, but want to see what all the fuss is about– here’s a good place to start… just go to the beginning of the list and start watching…you won’t regret a single second! I wish I could go back and discover all these wonderful films and all these fabulous people for the first time all over again.

Front Page Woman