Reviews and Blog Posts: Joan Crawford

Tina, bring me my tights: Joan Crawford's Torch Song as Swan Song

This year, Fresh City Life is celebrating Hollywood Regency style in film. Torch Song, Joan Crawford's musical offering from 1953, is a fabulous and fabulously wrong film. It plays this Tuesday on the big screen.

Crawford always found the zeitgeist. She was a liberated flapper at just the right moment. Then she transformed into a shop girl who makes good to highlight the collapse of the economy. And after WWII, she debuted her last great incarnation for the screen -- a self-empowered and independent woman who didn't need anyone by her side to make her complete. It played beautifully to pre-Women's Movement audiences. And then, when her star began to fade, her film choices became more over-the-top and her characters more broadly sketched.

Our Dancing Daughters: Hollywood's Zenith of the Jazz Era

Joan Crawford in Our Dancing Daughters. Photo: Glamamor.com

A film considered the great apex of the silent film era, Our Dancing Daughters is a perfect time capsule of 1920s high society and a showcase for the young woman formerly known as Lucille Le Sueur -- Joan Crawford.

She rose to fame as the quintessential Jazz Baby -- a woman of social means and relaxed morals who was liberated of the corsets and sexual mores of the previous age. And Joan Crawford was embraced by American and international film fans as the ideal movie star. She remained a box office favorite until the late 1940s and never stopped being a star until her death in 1977.

Johnny Guitar: 10 Reasons to See This Film

Joan Crawford at the climax of Johnny Guitar

McCarthy-era symbolism, great landscapes, amazing TruColor costumes and sets, Joan Crawford's eyebrows -- this movie has something for everybody.

I saw Johnny Guitar about ten years ago and I liked it just fine then. Now it is one of my favorite films of the 1950s. Here's why:

10. Joan Crawford in a Western! WWJD -- What would Joan do? What wouldn't she do?

9. The landscapes, filmed in TruColor, are spectacular and somehow just a bit alien.

8. Johnny Guitar makes a great case against the blacklisting and witch hunts of the McCarthy Era.

Camping with the Stars: Joan Crawford's First Time at the Rodeo

Joan Crawford

Crawford puts down the wire hanger and picks up her six shooters in the Western film that has become a cult and auteur classic.

Toward the end of her life, Joan Crawford was asked to comment on the 1954 film Johnny Guitar. She answered that she thought she was wrong for the part and she wished she hadn't made the film. I'm glad she did -- and so are a lot of fans of Crawford and the Western genre. 

Halloween at the Crawfords

1. Anne Bancroft.

KnitFlix presents the camp classic Mommie Dearest for our Halloween-Hollywood Royalty special screening. Tuesday, October 18, 5:30 p.m. in the Fresh City Lounge.

Here is some Mommie Dearest trivia to put you in the mood for this weird, cult film. Click on the pictures for the answers to the questions.

1. Who was originally picked to play Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest?

2. In a record breaking 'sweep,' how many Golden Raspberry Awards (the Razzies) did this film win?

3. What did costume designer Irene Sharaff say you needed to do before entering Faye Dunaway's dressing room?

4. Which memorable line from this film is #72 on the American Film Institute's list of top 100 lines of dialogue?

Tina Darling, Mommie's Home!

 Faye Dunaway's portrayal of Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest has become a cult classic. Fresh City Life presents this weird, absurd biopic as our KnitFlix movie for October.

 It was meant to be a faithful film rendition of Christina Crawford's book of the same title, but Mommie Dearest quickly became a midnight showing cult film. In fact, during its initial release, it developed a following as loyal as The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

I'm not a film academic, so I can't know with any certainty why Mommie Dearest moved into the realm of cult classic. But some of the reasons I love it might be contributing factors. In no particular order:

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