- directed by Jean Negulesco
- co-written by noted playwright Clifford Odets
- based on a novel by Fannie Hurst (Imitation of Life)
- starring Joan Crawford and John Garfield.
When I first heard about this film, my expectations were tempered by the fact that it was a drama starring Joan Crawford. Joan Crawford is an interesting screen presence for me – on one hand I do not mind watching her films (Mildred Pierce and The Women especially), but on the other hand, there is that overly stylized/campy aspect to her appearance and performance; this is particularly true for many of the films she did during this period in the 1940’s.
On its surface, I thought Humoresque would devolve into this generic type of “women’s picture” melodrama. Of course, in many ways it lives up to this promise. However, at the conclusion of the film, I was left with a genuine sense of melancholy. In the last 10-15 minutes of this film, the climax/falling actions are sublime and features quite possibly one of the most beautiful intercut sequences I have seen in quite some time.
In my estimation, Joan Crawford’s performance is the best of her long and somewhat varied career. I usually hesitate using superlatives, especially in this case since I have not seen every Crawford performance; but in this case, if this is not her greatest, it has to be in the top three.
Watching this film also brought me to a renewed appreciation for its director, Jean Negulesco. His filmography is substantial and includes in it many films that I consider among some of my more enjoyable classic film experiences:
- A Certain Smile
- Johnny Belinda
- Phone Call from a Stranger
- Three Coins in a Fountain
- The Best of Everything
He is also responsible for films such as:
- Titanic (1953)
- Daddy Long Legs (Fred Astaire/Leslie Caron)
- Boy on a Dolphin (Sophia Loren/Alan Ladd)
- How to Marry a Millionaire (Marilyn Monroe/Jane Russell)
So if you are a fan of romantic dramas of the 1940s or 1950s, Humoresque is definitely worth a look see.
If you have seen any films of Jean Negulesco, what is/are some of your faves? Enter in the comments below.