Allotment Wives (1945): The main squeeze is a dame!

Allotment Wives (1945)

A title that conjures up sordid images doesn’t disappoint.  A b-programmer from Monogram co-produced by and starring the sublime Kay Fancis as a crime-boss in one of her last roles, Allotment Wives is really a late gangster flick.   The organisers of the San Francisco’s Roxie Theatre coming noir series,  I WAKE UP DREAMING: The Haunted World of the B Film Noir,  have stretched the envelope by including this feature. Though others no doubt will pull out the tired arguments: the emasculating femme-noir threatening male dominance during the War, and the eroticisation of violence.

Allotment Wives (1945)
“Nice shooting…”

The story of a woman who uses her social status and ill-gotten wealth to front a bigamy racket where dames marry multiple GIs during WW2 to skim the allotment support paid by the Defense Dept to spouses of men on active duty, is predictable but well-made with a snappy script. Noir regular Paul Kelly as an army investigator is disappointingly wooden and his performance is underwhelming at best. Otto Kruger is fine as the lady boss’ right-hand man.  The climax is brutal with Francis plugging a dame without qualm or remorse, but justice triumphs in the end.  Francis’ flamboyant hats and her hair-do add a juicy camp quality to the goings-on.

6 thoughts on “Allotment Wives (1945): The main squeeze is a dame!”

  1. Hi! Tony,
    I must admit that I have never watched this film before…
    …therefore, I must seek it out!…Ahhh! a very obsure “b” film noir.
    Because author Arthur Lyons, didn’t include this title in his book. (Death on the Cheap:The Lost B Movies of Film Noir.)
    Nice review…have “piqued” my interest in this film!…1945 is pretty late for a “gangster” film!
    Deedee 😉


  2. Because author Arthur Lyons, didn’t include this title in his book. (Death on the Cheap:The Lost B Movies of Film Noir.)…and I must admit that he “covered” a “lot of ground” in his discussion of “B” films his book.

    …Therefore, author Arthur Lyons, may not have placed this film in his book, because he probably didn’t think it fit into the category of film noir. 😕 (Shrug shoulders)(and this film was released by Monogram?) 😕



  3. And I am in the same boat as Dee Dee here–I have never seen ALLOTMENT WIVES, but I’ll admit the story seems unlike any other with the wealthy femme busting a bigamy ring, even if you feel that it’s narrative progression is predictable. It’s significance is admittedly bolstered by the fact that it’s one of Kay Francis’s final roles.
    Tony, I must say that the film does remind me of MILDRED PIERCE a bit. Is that a stretch?


  4. Here’s what Bosley Crowther said in a brief assessment in The New York Times in its 1945 release:

    “A facet of crime peculiar to the second World War is exposed in Monogram’s “Allotment Wives,” which opened at the Ambassador yesterday. But hiding behind the self-explanatory title is a minimum of exposé and a maximum of routine melodrama about a syndicate of mobsters who use fast females to marry wholesale lots of soldiers for their Federal paychecks. The shooting and the other action, like the telling of this tale, is sporadic and uninspired. Justice, it should be noted, is triumphant to the extent that practically the entire gang is bumped off. As the co-producer of the picture and its distaff Fagin and mob chief, Kay Francis wears an assortment of impressive gowns and accessories and appears far too genteel for her job. Paul Kelly, as the Government investigator, and Otto Kruger, as Miss Francis’ henchmen, share the burden of the other leading roles.”


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