Ladies They Talk About (1933)

Film Review


Release Date: 4 February, 1933

Studio: Warner Bros.

Directors: Howard Bretherton, William Keighley

Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, Preston Foster

Related Discussion Topic: The Hays Code

Learn about the Motion Picture Production Code, also known as the Hays Code, in the Discussion Topics section.


An evangelist (Foster) professes to be in love with a criminal (Stanwyck). However, after she confesses her part in a bank robbery to him, he rejects her, and she ends up in a women’s prison. Foster truly loves Stanwyck and wants to visit her, but she refuses to see him. Her confederates in the bank robbery have also been jailed. To aid them she agrees to see Foster knowing that he will mail a letter that she slips into his pocket. The letter concerns the prison escape plans of her confederates. Through no fault of Foster, the letter reaches the police, and her friends are killed in the break out attempt. Stanwyck believes that Foster looked at the letter and gave it to the police. After her release from prison, Stanwyck stalks Foster intending to kill him, but after wounding him she is remorseful. Their love overcomes their differences and they are united.


This Pre-Code film was made to showcase the dramatic talents of Barbara Stanwyck. She plays a tough girl adjusting to prison life. Her changing emotions relative to Foster allow her to display love, anger, softness, and toughness. The story line, however, is confused and illogical. The best moments are some amusing incidents that would not have been allowed under the Production Code. For instance, Stanwyck and Lillian Roth, who plays another prisoner, are in the smoking room, and Stanwyck sees a cigar stub on the floor and says men must be getting in. In response, Roth points to a very butch woman with short hair, a firm walk, who wears a suit and smokes cigars. Later, Maude Ebern indicates a prisoner who quit her job as one of Ebern’s girls, because, Ebern says, she got tired of walking up the stairs. Preston Foster plays the evangelist with sincerity, but without much flair or impact. He makes a weak partner for Stanwyck.