Any appreciation I have for Joan Crawford is interesting for me. I mean she is not an absolute favorite of mine (her acting never blew me away), I concede that the combination of her striking beauty and indomitable will produced the requisite star power for success in the studio system. This was on full display not only in her early silent performances but, with the advent of sound, during her halcyon days at the dream factory that was MGM.
In honor of the anniversary of her birth, I decided to dedicate this post to highlighting some of my favorite Crawford films.
The Unknown (1927): of course centered the performance by Lon Chaney, this film is deliciously demented.
Our Dancing Daughters (1928): I think the TCM description says it best: “A flapper sets her hat for a man with a hard-drinking wife.” Yup, that.
Our Modern Maidens (1929): Crawford’s final silent film.
Rain (1932): Paging Sadie Thompson. Based on the Somerset Maugham story of a prostitute and missionary stuck on an island.
The Women (1939): Seriously how could this not be on my list? JUNGLE RED FORVEVER
Mildred Pierce (1945): sure she is a pushover for Vida, but she gets hers in the end. Not exactly what I would consider a noir, this performance gave Crawford her Academy Award for Best Actress.
Humoresque (1946): Crawford at her melodramatic finest.
Possessed (1947): Crawford played unstable so well. This was it for me. I love watching this movie.
Sudden Fear (1952): Crawford is a classic film-noir damsel in distress.
Johnny Guitar (1954): A recent add to my list as I have only recently seen it. A saucy Western where the protagonist/antagonist are female and the men feel a little like window dressing.
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) : Time to play “opposite day” with previous entry; a film which posits aging females as macabre, grotesque figures that are either to be pitied or feared.
Over her the decades, she went from flapper (ingénue) to a matron, slowly growing off kilter to and finally descended into to the horror camp arena. While this is sadly the fate that many actresses of her time had to suffer (but has a lot changed), Crawford approached every role with equal parts aplomb and dedication to her craft.
What are some of your favorite Crawford pics?