It is the story of a beautiful art department editor at a high-profile Manhattan fashion magazine who becomes a lively party girl at night. With the pressures of her work and her disappointing love life driving her to a breakdown, she seeks out the help of a psychiatrist, who recommends that she leave her job and her lifestyle behind and move into a smaller apartment under another name. Following his advice, she takes an interest in painting and meets a handsome neighbor.
Dishonored Lady was released by United Artists in the United States on May 16, 1947.
Madeleine Damien (Hedy Lamarr) is the fashion editor of a slick Manhattan magazine called Boulevard. Men are attracted to her, including boss Victor Kranish (Paul Cavanagh), wealthy advertiser Felix Courtland (John Loder) and a former assistant, Jack Garet (William Lundigan), who is now working for Courtland and blackmailing her about events from her past.
Madeleine makes a suicide attempt and is headed toward a breakdown. She crashes her car near the home of Dr. Richard Caleb (Morris Carnovsky) a psychiatrist, then, while under his care, quits her job and moves into a smaller flat under a new identity. She becomes interested in painting and in David Cousins (Dennis O’Keefe), a handsome neighbor.
After having marriage proposed to her by David, who knows nothing of her past, Madeleine is confronted by Courtland, who is still interested in her. After she slips away from his home, Garet arrives. Accused of a home burglary by Courtland, Garet bludgeons him with a table lighter. Madeleine is charged with the murder and is too depressed to defend herself. David realizes the truth, confronts Garet and manages to save Madeleine just in time.
Hedy Lamarr as Madeleine Damien
Dennis O’Keefe as Dr. David Cousins
John Loder as Felix Courtland
William Lundigan as Jack Garet
Morris Carnovsky as Dr. Richard Caleb
Natalie Schafer as Ethel Royce
Paul Cavanagh as Victor Kranish
Douglas Dumbrille as District Attorney O’Brien
Margaret Hamilton as Mrs. Geiger
Production was supposed to begin no later than January 1945. However, problems with the Hays Office caused a delay. The Hays Office insisted that two affairs – one in Mexico and the other in New York – might be “overloading” the picture, and also objected to the “night of sordid passion.” A memo dated April 25, 1946, stated that, despite revisions, the script was unacceptable because of its gratuitous sex and its references to Madeleine’s unsavory family secrets. In the released version of the story, references to Madeleine’s parents were omitted completely. The character of Moreno and the affair in Mexico City were completely excised, and the “night of sordid passion” was not shown. All suggestions that Madeleine was a murderer, or had even contemplated murder, were also removed from the film. In a final studio synopsis in the Code file, Madeleine goes away on a trip hoping the time will come when David and she can be together; the reunion at the film’s closing was added later. It was in production from early May to late July 1946 at California Studios.
The film went over budget by $1.2 million and was a failure at the box office.
By Robert Stevenson (YouTube) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons