Showing posts with label crawford. Show all posts
Showing posts with label crawford. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Crawford Watch: Above Suspicion (1943)



Watched:  06/26/2021
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Richard Thorpe

A mid-WWII propaganda picture, Above Suspicion (1943) is also the last film she made with MGM before severing ties with the studio, where she'd starred for 18 years.  

I'm honestly not clear on Fred MacMurray's star power in 1943, but Conrad Veidt, Reginald Owen and Basil Rathbone as supporting performers does give a notion of the high-caliber of the film at the time of the release.  And, frankly, the sets, size of the crowds of extras and more suggest MGM planned to make some money while also revving up their audience against Nazis.*

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Joan Watch: Queen Bee (1955)




Watched: 06/22/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Ranald MacDougall

Jenifer was good enough to host a watch party this evening and selected Queen Bee (1955), a film from Joan Crawford's mid-40's to mid-50's cycle.  

I'd label the movie as a "Southern Gothic Melodrama", and I wouldn't be shocked to see it pop up on Noir Alley, either, but not til we've exhausted other films like Flamingo Road, which fits the bill better.   I genuinely enjoyed the film, in part because it's so bonkers and done with complete sincerity as Crawford manipulates everyone around her in a grand old house in small-town Georgia.  

The film co-stars Barry Sullivan and John Ireland, but our POV is the young cousin of Crawford played by Lucy Marlow, who arrives after her schooling to be a sort of companion/ secretary to Crawford.  But I just figured out the woman playing one smaller role was Fay Wray, aged 48 or so.  Mind officially blown.

You can't not comment on the fact that Crawford was 50 or older when the movie was filmed and is still playing a woman who is probably supposed to be no older than 35.  I can never think of anyone who pulled this sort of thing off in the studio-era for as many movies in a row who wasn't Mae West.  But casting contemporary Wray against her as a former rival for the affections of Barry Sullivan, is no mean feat.  And, look, it's not a criticism.  Crawford's make-up was more a problem by 1955 than the actual aging process, and in some shots and in some entire films from the era, it works.  Crawford herself is no less powerful an actress, and one wonders if she dialed it back how she might have appeared (although her hair in this film is the tight perm of the mid-50's that did few women any favors). 

But, yeah, it's a tidy 100-or so minutes of Crawford wreaking all sorts of havoc upon her own family and their lovers.  It's got some outstanding dialog, terrific cinematography (Charles Lang), and you can't outguess the movie as it unfolds.  

 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Crawford Watch: Possessed (1947)

 


Watched:  06/07/2021
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Curtis Bernhardt

I'd watched this one a few years back, and - with more Crawford pics, more Van Heflin, and more cinema in general to inform me about the movie - I very much wanted to revisit the film.  

Much like High Wall, released around the same time and with a fraction of the budget, the movie is interested in the origins, effects and possible solutions to mental disorders.  Unlike High Wall, Possessed (1947) doesn't all feel like a lot of nonsense to give gravity to a standard pulp-derived pot boiler.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Crawford Watch: Johnny Guitar (1954)


 

Watched:  09/11/2020
Format: Watch Party
Viewing:  Third
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Nicholas Ray

I don't know how successful Johnny Guitar (1954) was upon its release.  As a Western, it plays with a lot of the tropes of expansion, cattlemen versus progress and settlement, gunslingers, robbing stage coaches and more.  But at the end of the day it's about two iron-willed women who really, really do not like each other, and how one self-righteous person can lead everyone down a path that ends in murder.

1954 was part of the second act of Joan Crawford's bumpy ride of a career that solidified nine years prior with Mildred Pierce.  The glamour days of Grand Hotel were 20 years in the past.  She still had the weirdo horror movie career ahead of her, and was just about to set out as America's foremost proponent of Pepsi Cola.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Noir Watch: Mildred Pierce (1945)



Watched:  05/16/2020
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1940's
Director: Michael Curtiz


It's pointless for a schlub blogger like me to get into writing much about Mildred Pierce (1945) - it's one of the best known and most written about movies out there, still a favorite among even the most casual of classic film fans.  Anyway, there's no shortage of critical analysis out there about the film. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Today is Joan Crawford's Birthday


I noticed a lot of chatter online today about Joan Crawford and then that TCM was running some of her movies (I didn't watch them, I was doing other things).  Today marks the 113th birthday of Joan Crawford, born in San Antonio in 1905 but mostly raised in Jamie's hometown of Lawton, Oklahoma. 

I am happy to do what I can to be one of the folks who would like folks to remember Crawford for her long career, ever-transforming screen persona, and - frankly - stunning screen presence before she wound up in some campy movie in her final working years and was badly memorialized by Dunaway.

Even in not-great movies, Crawford is a force.  All that is apparently a shadow of what she was like in person, and I am sure she would have terrified me if I'd met her, but since seeing Mildred Pierce during college, still one of my favorite films, I've been a fan.  But there are still a ton of her movies I've yet to see. 

Anyway, happy birthday, Ms. Crawford.  I hope you're having a Pepsi somewhere among your fans and friends.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Noir/ Crawford Watch: Sudden Fear (1952)



We're watching the new FX series, Feud: Bette and Joan (highly recommended), and it reminded me I'd been meaning to watch Sudden Fear (1952), a noirish potboiler starring Ms. Crawford, Jack Palance and Gloria Grahame.

Just the casting alone was enough to raise an eyebrow.  Of course I've seen a number of Grahame's pictures, a handful of Crawford's, but when it comes to Jack Palance, I've seen Batman, Shane and, sigh, his pair of 80's City Slickers comedies.*  And to see him in a movie where he has to act like a basically normal, functioning human was almost bizarre.  Because by the time I was a kid, even in real life Jack Palance was acting like a cartoon weirdo.

It's a strong, taught thriller with some great cinematography, tremendous use of sound and Crawford putting it all out there as she does a large amount of her acting completely alone.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Crawford Watch: Humoresque (1946)



As mentioned, I'm listening a bit to the You Must Remember This podcast during my commute, and moved on to a 6 episode run on Joan Crawford.  One of the topics covered toward the end of the series is how much of an impact Mommie Dearest (starring Faye Dunaway as a cartoonish Crawford) had on the popular conception of Joan Crawford, surpassing the image the actress had worked tirelessly for decades to make herself a star and retain her star status for decades past those of her contemporaries.

Humoresque (1946) should probably be thought of as a John Garfield picture, first and foremost.  He's certainly got the most screentime and the longest character arc.  The actions of the other characters in the film are focused upon what focused on their relationship to Garfield.

He plays Paul Boray, a violinist who rose from working-class roots in the streets of New York to become a national sensation within the high-class world of classical performance.  The film is a melodrama, no doubt, and an examination of a man of extraordinary talent and passion and the women in his life, including the girl-next-door, his mother and the wealthy society woman who elevates him from nothing to star status, but who carries an incredible amount of baggage.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Crawford Watch: Possessed (1947)


You know, I probably like Joan Crawford more than your average straight dude born in 1975.  Thanks to Faye Dunaway's performance in Mommy Dearest, the Joan Crawford of legend has superseded the Joan Crawford who shows up in her movies.  But watching those movies, you can see why folks decided maybe Joan was a little on the intense side.  And, her personal reputation as one tough lady did nothing to soften that edge (look up her rise within PepsiCo some day.  Absolutely bad-ass.).

To get real, Joan Crawford was a great beauty in the 20's and 30's when she hit Hollywood, and as she aged, maybe some of that slipped on her.  She remained attractive, but there's only so attractive someone can be when anger seems to their default setting, and you can see it set in somewhere in their resting face.  Here's where this boomerangs back - because Joan Crawford said "screw you, I'm still playing the sexy dame in middle-age", and did not just disappear into motherly, unsexed roles - and it kind of flips back on itself that the iron will in there somewhere is attractive all on its own.

Probably the first Joan Crawford movie I saw was Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, which is a crazy movie to start to get to know Crawford.  I love that movie, and she's great in it, but Mildred Pierce, which I saw next, is still my favorite Crawford movie.  She's so damn good in it, and it's such a weirdly excellent movie for a movie about a lady making pies.

It turns out Possessed (1947) is sort of Yin to the Yang that is Mildred Pierce.  And I have new second favorite Joan Crawford movie (move over, Johnny Guitar).  It's not a mother and daughter coming up together in a tough world with lay-abouts for men and fried chicken joints as cash cows.  It's a woman on her own, trying to find love, witha  complicated relationship with her step daughter.  Oh, and she has schizophrenia.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Yesterday was Joan Crawford's B-Day


March 23rd marks the birthday of Joan Crawford.  She would have been 110 yesterday.

Complicated person, that Joan Crawford.  I tend to really like her in movies, and I think I've shared here and elsewhere how much I like Mildred Pierce, in particular (but who doesn't)?  Johnny Guitar is also worth a view if you want to see something out there on the edge of genre and expectation.

Happy b-day to a daughter of The Alamo City and one of the greats.


Thursday, January 31, 2013

Noir Watch: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is a tough sell for a "hey, want to pop in a movie and relax?" kind of movie.  For this reason, I hadn't seen it in its entirety since college*, and had to do some convincing to get Jamie to watch the movie with me - but she soldiered through,and I think she liked it again.

I will do what a straight dude in 2013 will rarely do and admit a lot of affection for Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, even though the number of films I have seen each of them in is fairly small.**  By this point in both of their careers, the two weren't considered bankable stars, and while we tend to think of the early 60's as a conservative time, it's almost impossible to imagine this movie getting made today - and getting an audience to look up from their phones long enough to pay attention.



Monday, January 14, 2013

Outside our demographic: The Women (1939)

Nothing says "The League" like a 1939 women's picture directed by George Cukor, but I'd been hearing about The Women for what seems like forever, and I'd never seen a Norma Shearer movie, and as it also had Rosalind Russell and Joan Crawford, I wanted to give it a try.



Let us say that this is a movie of its time, and while I salute the movie for never showing a single person of the male persuasion in the film in any way, it's a product of its time in many, many ways that I think had Jamie squirming in her seat throughout the movie.  That said, it actually covers divorce, adultery, acknowledges sex and illicit sex ten years into the Code era in a way that frankly surprised me.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Novemberama! Joan Crawford!

Joan really looks like she knows her way around a sharp, deadly knife...

No.  Just, absolutely, no.  We are not doing this.

Happy Turkey Month, everybuddy!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Octoberama! Joan Crawford!


Each day of October, we'll be counting down to Halloween with Signal Watch Worthy imagery, movie reviews, posts, etc...

If you want to contribute anything from pictures to guest posts, feel free to contact me, and let's do it!

For our first post, what's creepier than a smashingly happy Joan Crawford?  I believe this is Halloween, 1933.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Picture of Young Joan Crawford kind of freakin' me out

I stumbled onto this last night, and now I can't quit looking at it. Young Joan Crawford looks like she really wants to stab someone.  I recommend you not look directly at the picture for too long.  Use one of those boxes you're supposed to make to look at the eclipse.  In this way, you are less likely to find yourself driven to madness.


As terrifying as I find Young Joan Crawford staring impassively into the camera, if she broke into a smile, I think I might pee myself a little.