Tuesday, June 08, 2010
How 'bout some Joan Crawford slaps (above)? There's some real dooseys here. Slaps are a useful dramatic device. The writing in a scene builds up to its slap, as does the performance. The worse thing a writer can do to an actor is to leave them rudderless in a scene that meanders all over the place. Slaps give a scene a direction, something to build to.
My favorite screen slap of all time is the one in "Mildred Pierce" where Crawford's daughter slaps Joan on the stairs. Crawford is completely disoriented and nearly falls off screen. No wonder...the slap was real. Crawford insisted on it. I wonder how many takes it took to shoot it?
Was Crawford tough in real life? I'm not sure. The stories are contradictory. In the interview above Arlene Dahl implies that Crawford deliberately threw her drink at her while at a dinner party. In the same interview Gloria DeHaven says Crawford unselfishly taught her a really useful vocal technique, and tells us what the technique was.
My guess is that the real-life Crawford was usually pretty nice, but we can hope that there were exceptions. I like to think of her as the hostess in this scene (above), where she fires her maid for dropping a cup. Crawford's real life daughter Christine, author of "Mommy Dearest," claims she was just like the roles she played in "Queen Bee" and "Harriet Craig."
BTW, I think the person who uploaded this video meant to title it: "Joan Crawford Is Pissed in the Movie Entitled 'Harriet Craig.'" The present title implies that Crawford did something unspeakable to someone named Harriet Craig.
What a whiner Crawford's real life daughter was! Here (above) Christine gets the punishment she deserves by being a guest on a nightmarish Italian TV show that never lets her speak. Watch it to the end because the actor who dubbed Cliff Robertson's voice does an even more over the top vocal than Robinson.
Posted by Eddie Fitzgerald at 12:41 AM