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Thirteen Women

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First, a circus performer’s trapeze act goes awry, killing her sister. Then a housewife stabs her hubby for no good reason. A horoscope of "You will not live until Christmas. You will meet death at your own hands” causes one woman to down a drink of “lemonade with bitters,” then turn a gun on herself. The press rightfully dub the events as “the horoscope murders.”

The swami himself succumbs as he "falls" in front of the subway train, but Ursula meets her match in well-to-do Laura Stanhope (Irene Dunne, The Awful Truth), whose family survives the box of poisoned candy and one full of dynamite.

Making its DVD debut courtesy of Warner Archive, Thirteen Women isn’t quite a blast, but for a 59-minute thriller, it’s awfully tough to get bored by it. The proto-slasher storyline is solid enough to keep the film afloat for so little time, and once revealed, Urusla’s raison d'etre is a howler by today’s standards.

The real kick, of course, is seeing Loy play loathsome, just two years before she would earn permanent American sweetheart status as Nora Charles, half of The Thin Man’s detecting duo. —Rod Lott

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