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Thirteen Women

1932 1h 14m Mystery & Thriller List
60% Tomatometer 10 Reviews 38% Audience Score 250+ Ratings
Female alumnae of the St. Albans Seminary sorority group receive letters from Swami Yogodachi, making alarming predictions of death and murder -- which come true. When Helen Frye (Kay Johnson) receives her prediction, she contacts sorority leader Laura Stanhope (Irene Dunne), who invites the remaining members to come to her home. On the journey there, Helen meets Ursula Georgi (Myrna Loy), a half-Indian, unaware that Ursula's fury over her treatment in college is behind the swami's predictions. Read More Read Less
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Critics Reviews

View All (10) Critics Reviews
Mordaunt Hall New York Times It is horror without laughter, horror that is too awful to be modish and too stark to save itself from a headlong plunge into hokum. Aug 17, 2020 Full Review Joe Bigelow Variety [The book] was fast light reading, thanks to the writing, but on celluloid it deteriorates into an unreasonably far- fetched wholesale butcher shop drama which no amount of good acting could save. Aug 17, 2020 Full Review Age Staff The Age (Australia) Miss Dunne carries off a difficult part with complete success, and Ricardo Cortez makes an able detective. Aug 17, 2020 Full Review David Nusair Reel Film Reviews ...a decent-enough, ahead-of-its-time precursor to the slasher genre. Rated: 2.5/4 Mar 29, 2024 Full Review Sean Axmaker Stream on Demand ... a mix of Selznick elegance and pre-code audacity. You won’t find the saucy sexuality that defines many the pre-code films here, but you do get death by trapeze and train and a bomb in a birthday present. Oct 27, 2023 Full Review Shadow Stage Photoplay Entertaining and gripping once you get into it, but it leaves you depressed. Aug 17, 2020 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (17) audience reviews
Audience Member Very dated and this is when acting was projecting as if on stage. It comes off as poor over acting. Interesting but really not good and you can't blame it on 1932 there are plenty of movies from the era that the acting and dialogue hold up well. This is schlock. The best thing is it was 1 hour. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 01/20/23 Full Review Audience Member Campy and entertaining, there are flashes of brilliance here: tight shots on Loy, made up as an evil Indian mystic bent on getting revenge against her old classmates, some scenes where tension is built up rather nicely (I won't spoil them), and even a car chase scene, 1932-style. You'll have to suspend disbelief over the concept that the mind can be controlled by another via 'waves', but that's part of the fun. Loy's motivation is revealed towards the end as she confronts Irene Dunne, and it reveals the racial climate of the times: as a "half-caste Indian half-breed", she was not allowed to "pass" as white in a sorority. As she explains it, for half-breed men this meant being a coolie, and for a woman, she simply shrugs, implying prostitution. As with many films treating race relations at the time, it has a mixed message, on the one hand, pointing out the unfairness of the sorority (and how racist its rules were), and on the other, elevating fears of violence by non-Caucasians. It's interesting that the film has quite a bit of the framework of the modern thriller in it, but it's not fleshed out as much as it ideally would have been, and seems abrupt in places. Finding out that the original release was 14 minutes longer could explain that, but I have to review it for what survives. You could do worse, and it's actually kind of a fun movie. Oh, and last point - interesting to see Peg Entwistle in her only credited screen role, before jumping from the 'H' in the Hollywood(land) sign in despair. Watch for her character 'Hazel' early on. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 01/13/23 Full Review Audience Member In genre terms it's crazy that this movie came out in 1932. It's basically the idea of And Then There Were None and Slasher films but predates it all. Other than that it's racist against Asian people and boring. The only watchable things really were the little boy actor and Myrna Loy's face. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 02/08/23 Full Review Audience Member Silly junk, wildly dated that was one of Myrna's final villainess Eurasian roles. She looks great but is far better than the part deserves. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 02/27/23 Full Review Audience Member The premise is good and maybe relevant, and Loy looks great as a "half-breed Hindu-Japanese something." But the script and acting are too stagy, and a handful of starburst wipes aren't enough to give this the visual flair it could have used. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 02/24/23 Full Review Audience Member Thirteen former sorority sisters start to receive, one by one, a horoscope prophesizing their doom from a renowned swami. When the prophecies begin to play out, the remaining few gather to fight their destiny. It turns out Myrna Loy attended their college but wasn't accepted into the sorority because she was a half-caste Hindu. It's Loy who is behind the letters, having influenced the swami with her mind powers, and she's out for bloody revenge on the girls who shunned her. Sounds like the plot of an eighties slasher like "House On Sorority Row" right? Wrong, this was made in 1932, taking advantage of that small window before the Hays Code shut the party down. I can't say if the makers of the "Final Destination" series were influenced by this but the theme of trying to escape your fate is very similar. The opening scene involving a trapeze act feels like a thirties precursor to the set pieces of that franchise. There's an effective scene on a subway platform, Archainbaud ratcheting up the tension by exaggerating the sound of the station turnstiles. Hollywood wasn't known for raising the issue of racism in the early thirties so the motives of Loy are quite a curiosity. Tellingly though she isn't portrayed with any of the sympathy such a character would evoke in a contemporary movie. Likewise the mention of a miscarriage feels pretty heavy compared to the general frothiness of thirties cinema. One of the women implies a promiscuous nature which will be a bit of a shock if you're not familiar with pre-code cinema. Irene Dunne plays a single mother, trying to stop Loy from claiming the life of her son. How often do we see a single mother as the heroine of a movie now let alone back then? Male audiences may have found this early feminism uncomfortable. In his review at the time, New York Times critic Mordaunt Hall noted "an uncomfortable absence of hearty male chatter in this demoniacal intrigue". Several characters meet their fate through suicide, a topic that immediately became taboo once the code was introduced. In possibly the first creepy offscreen coincidence surrounding the production of a horror movie, star Peg Entwistle ended her life on the day of the film's release. Dramatically, she threw herself from atop the letter H on the famous Hollywood sign. It may be creaky even for it's era but it's a nice little curiosity piece and an interesting foreshadowing of the slashers that would appear almost half a century later. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 01/29/23 Full Review Read all reviews
Thirteen Women

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Cast & Crew

Movie Info

Synopsis Female alumnae of the St. Albans Seminary sorority group receive letters from Swami Yogodachi, making alarming predictions of death and murder -- which come true. When Helen Frye (Kay Johnson) receives her prediction, she contacts sorority leader Laura Stanhope (Irene Dunne), who invites the remaining members to come to her home. On the journey there, Helen meets Ursula Georgi (Myrna Loy), a half-Indian, unaware that Ursula's fury over her treatment in college is behind the swami's predictions.
Director
George Archainbaud
Producer
David O. Selznick
Screenwriter
Tiffany Thayer, Bartlett Cormack, Samuel Ornitz
Production Co
RKO Radio Pictures Inc.
Genre
Mystery & Thriller
Original Language
English
Release Date (Streaming)
Oct 1, 2012
Runtime
1h 14m
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