Allotment Wives is the film noir produced by Monogram Pictures. The office of Dependency Benefits is cracking down on women who commit bigamy. It leads them to Sheila, who is in charge of the allotment racket. She has problems of her own as she overprotects her daughter, Connie, so she won’t end up like her. In fact, she plans to stop being a criminal. However, when Gladys, an old friend, tries to muscle in on her turf, it leads to Connie getting kidnapped. Can the O.D.B. bring the criminals to justice and can Sheila save her daughter?
While it’s a good movie, it doesn’t know if it wants to be a social problem picture or a female-focused film noir. The idea of military benefits fraud as the focus of the story is a great idea. The screenwriter never examines the issue. In fact, you could easily cut it out of the film and it wouldn’t suffer at all. This is a shame, because the rest of the film is pretty good. The female characters are the real stars of the show. Sheila turns out to be a complicated character, as she wants to protect Connie from the harsh realities of the world. Her conflict with Gladys is treated seriously and is free from any petty overtones. There are male characters, but they are overshadowed by the women. There is a nasty undertone, as one of the agents compares the gold-digging women to Japanese and Germans and say that they are all inherently evil and heartless. Sadly, since it was created in 1945, propaganda like this was common. Gladys is a pretty smart villain and is able to put one over on the police. It’s a flawed but surprisingly good film. Honolulu film fans should rent it first.
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