As a gay man of a certain age, my first exposure to Joan Crawford was 1981’s super campy MOMMIE DEAREST. I thought she was this over-the-top harpy in a movie that was unintentionally funny and often grotesque. (Now there has been a lot of discussion as to whether or not Christina Crawford’s roman a clef is on the up and up, but that’s a topic for a different day.) My love of film grew as I got older, and when I dived into Oscar lore, I read a lot about Ms. Crawford. In college, I saw FEMALE ON THE BEACH, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? and THE BEST OF EVERYTHING — all with the idea that these were camp. That she was this out-of-date, performative actress of a previous generation and she’s just a caricature. It wasn’t until I saw SUDDEN FEAR when I was in my late 20s that I thought “damn, she can be a great actress.”
Karina Longworth’s excellent podcast “You Must Remember This” did a 6 part series on Joan Crawford, which I’ve listened to 3 times over. (The first episode is here; trust me, you’ll love it.) Between that and Ryan Murphy’s Feud, I saw sides of Joan Crawford that I never expected. I really grew to respect the hell out of her.
And then I realized a few days ago, i’ve barely seen her body of work. Per her listing on IMDB, Joan Crawford has acted in 106 film and television projects. 106! Some are uncredited, some are extra work, but still. 106 is a lot of movies for an actress people spent a lot of time writing off because Faye Dunaway decided to chew every piece of scenery she could get her hands on in 1981. So, it’s time to give Ms. Crawford her due.
Between now and Dec. 31 2019, I’m going to watch as many Joan Crawford movies as I can.
I’ll watch every film she’s been in. If I can watch her TV work too, great.
I will rewatch films I’ve already seen.
I’ll give as much trivia as I know (which is significant), but this won’t be a deep dive into her history.
I’ll do one entry per film, writing my feelings about the film and Ms. Crawford’s performance and how it fits in with her stardom and some history.
As the availability of some of these films are sketchy at best, I’m going to watch them in order of convenience instead of chronological.
You all ready to join me? Then let’s dive in!