A Woman Rebels

Overview

Based on a novel by Netta Syrett, A Woman Rebels is the story of Pamela Thistlewaite Katharine Hepburn, whose mission in life is to defy the restrictive and often hypocritical conventions of Victorian England. Refusing to conform to the status quo, Pamela lives alone, reads, and says whatever she wishes, and even -- horrors! -- takes a job. Her romantic dalliance with young Gerald Van Heflin, in his film debut results in an illegitimate daughter Doris Dudley, whom Pamela raises as her niece until she decides it's...
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Overview

Based on a novel by Netta Syrett, A Woman Rebels is the story of Pamela Thistlewaite Katharine Hepburn, whose mission in life is to defy the restrictive and often hypocritical conventions of Victorian England. Refusing to conform to the status quo, Pamela lives alone, reads, and says whatever she wishes, and even -- horrors! -- takes a job. Her romantic dalliance with young Gerald Van Heflin, in his film debut results in an illegitimate daughter Doris Dudley, whom Pamela raises as her niece until she decides it's high time to tell the truth in all matters. Faithful suitor Thomas Lane Herbert Marshall offers to make an "honest woman" of her, but Pamela refuses until she can stand on her own two feet financially. Fiercely independent to the last, she becomes the crusading editor of a pioneering pro-feminist magazine and an early champion of Women's Suffrage. It was hoped by RKO Radio that The Woman Rebels would restore the popularity of Katharine Hepburn, which thanks to a series of expensive failures had been flagging for the past two years. Though the film turned out to be a box-office loser it posted a $220,000 deficit, in retrospect it can be regarded as an artistic triumph -- and a remarkably timely one at that.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Tom Wiener
From its title alone, A Woman Rebels sounds like a great vehicle for Katharine Hepburn, and to some extent it is. But the film takes so long in establishing its heroine's situation (her love life hamstrung by a dark secret from her past) that what could have been the meat of the story -- Pamela's growing political awareness and her career as a crusading journalist -- seems truncated by the plot machinations swirling around her "niece" Flora (Elizabeth Allan) and Pamela's persistent suitor, the diplomat Thomas Lane (Herbert Marshall). Though Marshall and Hepburn really do strike sparks, and in his film debut Van Heflin impresses as Pamela's first lover, the story leaves Pamela's real accomplishments largely to the viewer's imagination. Its best sequence -- Flora applying for jobs as a secretary and retail clerk, positions not open to women in Victorian times -- hints of a more interesting film that could have followed her career more closely and shown how she overcame custom and tradition to appeal to women yearning for some measure of respect. Though Thomas' last line, "These modern women are so weak," is uttered with a wry twist, it's also true that Pamela is at that moment enfolded in his embrace and her fate in his hands. It's not exactly the way you'd expect a picture about a pioneering feminist to wrap up.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/20/2009
  • UPC: 883316140284
  • Original Release: 1936
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Presentation: B&W / Full Frame
  • Time: 1:28:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 12,897

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Katharine Hepburn Pamela Thistlewaite
Herbert Marshall Thomas Lane
Elizabeth Allan Flora Thistlewaite
Donald Crisp Judge Thistlewaite
Doris Dudley Young Flora
David Manners Alan
Lucile Watson Betty Bumble
Van Heflin Gerald
Eily Malyon Piper
Margaret Seddon Aunt Serena
Molly Lamont Young Girl
Lionel Pape Mr. White
Constance Lupino Lady Gaythorne
Lillian Kemble-Cooper Lady Rinlake
Marilyn French Flora, As Infant
Marilyn Knowlden Flora, Age 10
Joe Mack Italian
Bonnie June McNamara Flora, Age 5
Inez Palange Signora Grassi
Tony Romero Italian Boy
Nick Thompson Signor Grassi
Technical Credits
Mark Sandrich Director
Pandro S. Berman Producer
Mel Burns Makeup
Robert de Grasse Cinematographer
George D. Ellis Sound/Sound Designer
Perry Ferguson Art Director
Jane Loring Editor
Hermes Pan Choreography
Walter Plunkett Costumes/Costume Designer
Van Nest Polglase Art Director
Nathaniel Shilkret Musical Direction/Supervision
Darrell Silvera Set Decoration/Design
Dewey Starkey Asst. Director
Ernest Vajda Screenwriter
Anthony Veiller Screenwriter
Roy Webb Score Composer
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