B-Movie Molls lacked the glamour of prominent Hollywood stars like Jean Harlow. Decked in white satin and silk, Harlow played the gorgeous Gwen in Public Enemy.
Her man was no other than the legendary James Cagney. Harlow was a dry-eyed, tough beauty.
Her uptown appeal faded as movie-goers responded to movie molls with deep emotional substance. Molls like Shelly Winters, who played the girlfriend to Dillinger-like character Jack Palance in a remake of "High Sierra," loved with self-effacing passion.
Shelly Winters, with her little dog, Pard, was taken from the stories of Dillinger molls Marie Comforti, Dolores Delaney and Evelyn Frechette, who travelled with tiny dogs alongside their public enemy boyfriends Van Meter, Alvin Karpis and John Dillinger.
B-Movie molls like Shelly Winters shed real tears, visited real jails, and ultimately, lived wasted lives.
The quality of mercy caught on as B-movie molls developed strength of character. Many would deliver an unforgettable performance, then disappear from the public eye altogether. Movie molls made a deep watermark in the minds of people. Who could forget speakeasy owner Gladys George in "The Roaring Twenties," who, in spite of being a tough business woman, was deeply in love with James Cagney's bootletter anti-hero?
As he died on the church steps, she cradled his head in her arms. These scenerios were played out in real life, by molls Jean Delaney Crompton, and Beth Green, and Helen Gillis in the Dillinger saga. All a script writer had to do was read a newspaper for story lines.
Linda Darnell was often cast to play the moll in stories of the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries. She never took a back seat to any bad guy.
The women she portrayed were dominent, such as her character of Amber St. Clair in the classic "Forever Amber." Darnell brought her act up to date in "A Letter to Three Wives," 1949.
Unlike Linda Darnell, who remained in the Harlow category of "beautiful and hard," Ann Sheridan interpreted the role of the 1930s gunmoll by meeting her rogue boyfriends on their own terms.
When James Cagney told her, "you'll always be my goil," in the New York vernacular of pre-war Hollywood, Ann Sheridan melted in his arms. Her own diction was far superior to her man's, but nevertheless, she never condescended to him.
Shown here with Pat O'Brien, the proverbial priest alluding to Baby Face Nelson's friend, Father Conklin, and John Garfield, himself a major movie gangster, she is more concerned for her imprisoned lover than for herself.
Every mug and mobster had a mother, and nobody portrayed the tough-love variety better than Marjorie Main.
She conjured up images of Baby Face Nelson's Mom, who watched his young children while he was on the lam with his wife, Helen Gillis. In the Dillinger story, Eddie Green's long-suffering mother watched over her dying son as the FBI interrogated him on his death bed.
But Marjorie Main outdid them all. She is best remembered for telling Humphrey Bogart, Dead End's infamous neighborhood mobster, "I'll crack your face."