A wealthy but gullible small-town girl falls in love with a dashing con artist who has swung into town. He persuades her to fake her father's signature on a letter of recommendation, which he uses to secure goods and services from local stores. He plans to leave town before his scheme is discovered, but first he talks the girl into marrying him, seducing her into a wedding night in a sleazy hotel, after which he runs out on her.
Conrad Nagel ... Dr. Dick Lindley
Sidney Fox ... Marianne Madison
Bette Davis ... Laura Madison
Zasu Pitts ... Minnie
Slim Summerville ... Sam
Charles Winninger ... Mr. Madison
Emma Dunn ... Mrs. Madison
Humphrey Bogart ... Valentine Corliss
Bert Roach ... Wade Trumbull
David Durand ... Hedrick Madison
Let's see, Wade loves Marianne, Dick loves Marianne, Laura loves Dick, Marianne loves Val, Val loves himself. By film's end, Dick loves Laura, Marianne loves Wade and everyone lives happily ever after.
Despite the opening comments, "The Bad Sister" is not that hard to follow, even with it's soap opera feel. Bette Davis in her first film role displays some of her future star quality as Laura Madison, but here she's quite timid and demure, much unlike her many portrayals to come and definitely not the bad sister. That role is left for Sidney Fox, who as Marianne Madison displays all the manipulative, spiteful and bitchy behavior you just love to hate in a character. Marianne plays everyone for a fool, but sinks to an all time low when she forges her father's signature to a letter supporting a questionable business venture by the slick Val Corliss (Humphrey Bogart in his fourth film). Corliss skips town, leaving John Madison's partners as well as Marianne literally holding the bag.
Up to that point, the film offers a fairly respectable and tense drama, but literally implodes when the ailing father offers to take the rap and cover for Marianne. In a total reversal of character, Marianne admirably confesses, and the businessmen seem satisfied that her father will make good on their bad decision. But in an entirely too simple and unrealistic ending, the "reformed" Marianne is shown smooching with the bumbling Wade, while inviting all the rest of the happy family into the Madison home. It's a feel good ending that doesn't work for all that went before.
Not bad at all ,but the main interest of the movie is to see Davis in her first ,and bogart in one of his firsts the story and the way it's developed is very old fashion and the characters are very simplified. the cinematic aspect is not new and the story demoded and to say the truth frankly boring
Sydney Fox was the female lead, a hell rising siren, and Davis had a secondary role as her drab sister.
The film was bad and unfavorably received by critics and public and Davis later declared it was the worst experience of her life.