Sunday, February 21, 2010


Here's (above) a Joan Crawford coffee mug. Unfortunately it's been out of print since the fifties. A larger version would have made a great front piece for a car or a locomotive.

Here's (above) the tortured Joan.

Her plans for conquest have backfired, gone awry.

Joan's husband is on the other side of the bathroom door (above), lying unconscious in a bathtub that's rapidly filling with water. She steels herself to listen to his final struggle if there is one. How much will the life insurance amount to? Did she remember to wipe her fingerprints off the rim of the tub?

Huh? What's HE doing in the courtroom? I thought Big Joe paid him off!

Sometimes Crawford's characters (above) grow weary of life. When will it be over, all this game-playing? Why can't the rich just give her their fortunes? Why must she have to work so hard for them?

Poor Garfield (above) should have known better. No man can have Joan for more than a short time. She's tired of him, but he can't take the hint.

You don't mess with Joan!

You're a man, and you're head over heels in love with Crawford...pathetic, because she won't give you the time of day. Normally she looks the other way when you're around, but it's just dawned on her that maybe she can use you.

Pretty as a cupcake, but there's larceny in those eyes.

Woken out of sleep by the sound of crying (above)! It sounds like the woman she used to work for, the one she deliberately drove mad so she could marry her husband...but she's been dead for weeks now! How can it be!?

Ha! It was almost too easy! Did that plain Jane of a girlfriend really think she could keep a man like David?

Joan relaxes (above) after cheating her deceased husband's daughter out of her inheritance. She'll send the girl away to boarding school and have the fine old house to herself. Ah, life is good!

Sometimes Joan played honest but rather cold women who worked hard to get where they were. These women were nobody's fool in the business world, and they dominated the men in their personal lives...that is, until they encountered...HIM.

You can buy dolls of Crawford and Davis, the way they looked in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" The Davis doll (above) came out the best.

Above, two Crawford look-alikes . I'd say the picture on the right comes closest.

BTW: I'm a guest on the latest ASIFA Animation Archive Podcast. The URL is on the sidebar.


Lester Hunt said...

Ah, what a face! She starred in the greatest of all the "classical musicals," Humoresque, with John Garfield. It features a suicide scene with music by Wagner. What could be better than that??

Hans Flagon said...

I grew up with Trog, Baby Jane era Crawford, and was shocked the first time I saw footage from Rain, that she was actually a looker, a young starlet, a hottie.

I never would have thought that, or necessarily think that, from other actresses I think really bloomed as Character Actors in their late career, that they were just another pretty face in the chorus line or studio cafeteria at one point.

Meryl Streep, however, has always seemed like Meryl Streep to me, even though she is older now, there seems to be no huge change.

Bette Davis, Lucille Ball, Shelly Winters, Angela Lansbury, were all in their early twenties, considered striking 'lookers' but they really had not bloomed yet.

I sometimes say of Cybil Shepard, that she is going to become Shelly Winters, and it makes friends laugh, but I mean it in the best possible way. Cybil has a comic energy that WOULD and WILL if she decides to accept it, as a character actress, or even merely Talk Show Couch/ Game Show Panel fodder.

Barbara Stanwyck however, I never saw the younger beauty. I grew up watching The Big Valley, and not thinking much of her charms, so it is still a bitter pill to swallow her as a femme fatale in Double Indemnity. I can't do it.

Anonymous said...

GREAT post, Eddie! Joan Crawford and Barbara Stanwyck are my two favourite actresses! But I think saying that homosexual pedophile looks like her is blasphemy! Joan was one of the most beautiful, unique looking women ever. MJ is a disfigured freak.

Hans: Ever seen Barbara Stanwyck in The Lady Eve, Remember The Night and Christmas in July?

BTW, there's an early Barbara Stanwyck marathon this week on TCM. I'll be watching ever minute of it!

Shawn Dickinson said...

Great post, Eddie. Joan Crawford is my favorite actress of all time. She's got Buster Keaton eyes, and uses them just as well. So many subtle emotions - she's brilliant!

I finally saw her in Strait-Jacket (1964) the other night. Great film!

Anonymous said...

Ha!--you blew it with "Humoresque" Eddie![SPOILERS AHOY]:

...she kills herself over John there. She couldn't and didn't always win-he pulverizes her. It's probably her most sympathetic role(and Garfield's least).

Best Crawford films imho are "The Women", "Humoresque"(truly incredible perf), "A Woman's Face"(yow), "Strange Cargo"..I've never seen "Harriet Craig" but have always wanted to as it's such an interesting idea-sounds like the Mary Tyler Moore character in "Ordinary People"-a woman more in love with her house than anything else.

Jennifer said...

Joan Crawford is one of my favorite actresses of the past. She really worked her way up from the bottom, and she had longevity compared to most of her contemporaries.

What's sad is her reputation was torn to shreds by her daughter Christina's book. Even though Joan's other two daughters, a number of her staff, "witnesses" to the alleged events, and a number of Christina's friends dismissed the book as bull**** and full of exaggerations, the public still took what Christina said as gospel. Here's a little tidbit of info that I've read from a relative of Joan's (granddaughter in law) - Joan's twins (particularly Cathy) wanted to create something (a book or documentary) which basically debunked most of what Christina wrote in "Mommie Dearest". They didn't do it because Christina threatened to make the twins' and their families' lives a living hell (lawsuits, going on talk shows to trash the twins, etc) if they did the project. I was glad that the twins got their day because Christina still went on talk shows and bad-mouthed the twins because the twins were coming forward and speaking out on other Joan Crawford documentaries, and the twins were able to successfully sue Christina for defamation.

If the only image that a person has about Joan Crawford is the kabuki-like make-up job on Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest, that person would wonder how the hell did people think that she was a sex symbol. Joan Crawford, especially in her youth, had a perfect, photogenic face. Even when she got older, she looked 10-15 years younger than her chronological age.

I have to laugh at your comment about the Michael Jackson mugshot. When that was first published, a NUMBER of journalists made the remark about how much Michael looked like an older Joan Crawford.

talkingtj said...

she was very much alive when i was younger and my mom and grandmother watch her films on tv all the time-i never thought she was beautiful-never understood her appeal-twenty after her death i was watching a silent she did with lon chaney-cant remember the name-they were both part of a circus-she was soooo beautiful and such a naturally gifted actress-she transitioned easily from silent to talkies so she had the talent-what happened to her-her transformation is so radical-from warm and beautiful to coldly matronly and melodramatic-it vexes me-holywood is so weird.

Stephen Worth said...

check out Baby Face, Hans. In the beginning of the film, Stanwyck watches her father burn to death... and LIKES IT.

thomas said...

Hollywood Revue of 1929 is on TCM today with Joan Crawford doing a song and dance bit. She looks very uncomfortable and pretty awkward doing it. That she's forcing a smile, trying to get through the bit, makes her look all the more uncomfortable.

Alex said...

Ever see the movie "The Unknown"? It's one of her first movies and a really interesting silent film. Lon Chaney plays a "armless" knife thrower in it.

Steven M. said...

Note to self: Avoid Joan.

Anonymous said...

I think the dance routine in the '29 film just looks clunky and awkward to us now. Joan was at that time a champion Charleston dancer, famous all over L.A. nightclubs for her moves-the style is just odd-looking to our eyes. And I thought the same thing when I originally watched it in "That's Entertainment". Remember too that was followed by many other roles in the early 30s where the biggest draw about Crawford was her as a sexy dancer, so she must have looked good, not awkward, to moviegoers then.

As for her private life: far too many people who were there and were adults when Christina and her brother were small have corroborated aspects of what she wrote in her book. I've read over a dozen reputable, first-person accounts by actors, producers and directors of how disturbing and weird her "motherhood" was, what she made the kids do/how she parented. Personally I think Joan was totally unequipped to deal with her two oldest adopted children, and unable to handle stress that she kept brutally bottled up in ALL other-that is to say public-aspects of her life, and took it out on them.

That is uterly divorced from her performances on screen, which in many cases she excelled at. She was also reputedly a great, conscientious friend to many people in the industry and a super-humanly hard worker.
Human beings and actors are complicated but Joan definitely had deep-seated issues.

Stanwyck's Baby Face is a great little film. It's pre-code all the way. She is actually replled by her father's death-but relieved-the guy was literally whoring her out, so it's given a great motivation! She's best pals with a black woman and is shown as having no other options but what she knows-her feminine charms-to survive after her brute father is killed.
It's a great character study!

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Jennifer, Anon: The twins sued Christina and won!!!??? I had no idea! Good for them! I don't doubt that life in the Crawford household was no bed of roses, but their mother was Joan Crawford, for Pete's sake! You have to make allowances!

Anon: Actually I knew I was deviating from the plots I referenced. I was trying to make the story captions fit the pictures above them, even if the film story was different.

Hans: Stanwyck is great in Double Indemnity. Your doubts have no doubt earned you the wrath of the gods. Best not wonder outside during lightning storms for a while.

Jorge: A Stanwyck marathon!? I'm there!!!

Lester: Son of a Gun! Maybe that was the greatest classical musical.

BTW: A belated thanks for the Christmas card showing your house covered with snow. I just discovered it among my papers this morning.

Talking, Thomas: I love the way she was always re-inventing herself.

JAWhite said...

What the! I Google South Pacific Islander Masks and end up here? Must be the twitchy clicker finger. Oh well, I’ll grab a beer and watch for a while, always did like Crawford.

Anonymous said...

So I guess the initial listings that said there was a Stanwyck marathon were incorrect... at least in Canada. In its place they showed a bunch of Colbert movies I'd already seen.

Doug Handler said...

Man, that coffee mug is frightening!! If you painted it white, she'd look like The Joker! I've been on a '30s Horror movie kick lately and I'm almost sure Crawford starred in one, but I don't remember which. Despite this mug, she was pretty hot when she was younger.

Tony said...

This is directed to Hans Flagon, I too was shocked to see that the young Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Lucille Ball, etc. were once striking beauties. The reason they looked like ghouls in old age is simple, smoking and drinking. Beauty can sometimes survive decades of smoking (rare) and years of excessive drinking (very rare); but never both. Striking looks are no match for bad habits!