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"Harriet Craig"/"Craig's Wife"


Debra Johnson
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Harriet Craig is a remake only on the broadest terms. The Crawford film changes quite a few plot points and characters and seems much more modern. But I love the performances of both Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell. Two of the all-time greats pulling out all the stops.

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When Crawford died People magazine interviewed a woman who was her neighbor and close friend. The woman said of all the characters Crawford played on screen she was most like Harriet Craig, in terms of her need for cleanliness and order.

In another article I read, Crawford's friend Fay Wray said that when she would go to Crawford's dressing room on the set of QUEEN BEE, Crawford was always inspecting places in the room where there might be some dust that didn't get wiped clean. She was overly concerned about everything being kept spotless.

The article in People also indicated Crawford was very close with Rosalind Russell, going back to their days as costars in THE WOMEN. And they liked the fact they had both played Harriet Craig. It was another reason they bonded. So I guess Russell was a neat freak too!

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I havent seen the Roz version in a long time and remember it being a let down (I had seen the Joan version first). They are different in some ways, but I cant remember exactly how now. I think the Roz version was closer to the play.

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There's something on IMDb, which may or may not be true, in that it states that Crawford "wrote" the bit in her film version when she tells about being abandoned by her father and struggling not to starve to death as a kid and how she had to quit school and go to work in a laundry at 14. Whether she wrote that or lived it (it's possibly close to the truth) she delivers the speech with real power. She doesn't whine about it. She simply explains that it made her what she is. And it Crawford's case, it made her a star actress and one of the very best.

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Yes, that part really did mirror Joan's earlier life. Unsure if she wrote that or had a hand in that being added to the script. She did work in a laundry as a kid (perhaps where the wire hanger phobia originated? :D)

 

SPOILERS

 

Part of the problem with Roz's version it was only 75 mins long. Joan's was an extra half hour longer, so had more time to develop plot and character. I'd forgotten (after reading imdb) there was a murder subplot in Roz's version, that wasnt in Joan's.......

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22 minutes ago, Hibi said:

Yes, that part really did mirror Joan's earlier life. Unsure if she wrote that or had a hand in that being added to the script. She did work in a laundry as a kid (perhaps where the wire hanger phobia originated? :D)

 

SPOILERS

 

Part of the problem with Roz's version it was only 75 mins long. Joan's was an extra half hour longer, so had more time to develop plot and character. I'd forgotten (after reading imdb) there was a murder subplot in Roz's version, that wasnt in Joan's.......

 Yes, the murder/suicide subplot was a bit much.

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I love Harriet Craig, too.  It's one of my favorites of her work in the Fifties, along with Female on the Beach and Queen Bee.  Whenever I watch it, I am a little unsettled by seeing a bit of myself in Harriet.  The obsession with things in the house being a certain way, and the jealousy she feels, even when completely unwarranted.  At least I've never gone so far as to sabotage my spouse's career!  After a viewing, I remind myself to lighten up, relax!  If the vase on the mantle is moved an inch or two, it's not the end of the world.

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9 minutes ago, darrylfxanax said:

I love Harriet Craig, too.  It's one of my favorites of her work in the Fifties, along with Female on the Beach and Queen Bee.  Whenever I watch it, I am a little unsettled by seeing a bit of myself in Harriet.  The obsession with things in the house being a certain way, and the jealousy she feels, even when completely unwarranted.  At least I've never gone so far as to sabotage my spouse's career!  After a viewing, I remind myself to lighten up, relax!  If the vase on the mantle is moved an inch or two, it's not the end of the world.

I need to get my wife to watch Harriet Craig on a regular basis.   (ha ha).

If you don't mind me asking,  are all your canned goods placed in the shelf in alphabetical order?  (yea, that is what I have to deal with,  but hey I'm no peach to live with!).

As for the 3 films you mention; I enjoy them also and I agree that Joan does some fine work in these films.  

Out of the 3 Queen Bee is the darkest and the first time I saw it,  it unsettled me (but the ending did provide a sense of justice and closer). 

 

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18 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

I need to get my wife to watch Harriet Craig on a regular basis.   (ha ha).

If you don't mind me asking,  are all your canned goods placed in the shelf in alphabetical order?  (yea, that is what I have to deal with,  but hey I'm no peach to live with!).

As for the 3 films you mention; I enjoy them also and I agree that Joan does some fine work in these films.  

Out of the 3 Queen Bee is the darkest and the first time I saw it,  it unsettled me (but the ending did provide a sense of justice and closer). 

 

Ha!  No, my canned goods and refrigerated items aren't in alphabetical order, but they are definitely arranged categorically, with all labels visible and facing forward.  

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30 minutes ago, darrylfxanax said:

Ha!  No, my canned goods and refrigerated items aren't in alphabetical order, but they are definitely arranged categorically, with all labels visible and facing forward.  

OMG! ALPHABETICAL ORDER???

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Interestingly, Craig's Wife (1936) set decoration was credited to Stephen Gooson whom director Dorothy Arzner had fired. She brought in former superstar William Haines who worked with pal Rosalind Russell to create the brittle, museum-like decor that perfectly mirrored Russell's (and Arzner's) vision of Harriet Craig. Haines had also designed the sets for his own film Just a Gigolo in 1931. It's rumored that Haines also worked on pal Joan Crawford's Harriet Craig decor to update his original set design with a 1950s twist. Crawford and Haines, of course, were lifelong friends after working together in silent films at MGM. Haines loved doing set designs (he owned a world-class interior design company) but refused to work under a long-term studio contract again after his dispute with Mayer at MGM.

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On ‎9‎/‎18‎/‎2018 at 3:35 PM, drednm said:

There's something on IMDb, which may or may not be true, in that it states that Crawford "wrote" the bit in her film version when she tells about being abandoned by her father and struggling not to starve to death as a kid and how she had to quit school and go to work in a laundry at 14. Whether she wrote that or lived it (it's possibly close to the truth) she delivers the speech with real power. She doesn't whine about it. She simply explains that it made her what she is. And it Crawford's case, it made her a star actress and one of the very best.

I've read this somewhere as well.  Not sure if it was IMDb.

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On ‎9‎/‎20‎/‎2018 at 2:48 PM, jamesjazzguitar said:

I need to get my wife to watch Harriet Craig on a regular basis.   (ha ha).

If you don't mind me asking,  are all your canned goods placed in the shelf in alphabetical order?  (yea, that is what I have to deal with,  but hey I'm no peach to live with!).

As for the 3 films you mention; I enjoy them also and I agree that Joan does some fine work in these films.  

Out of the 3 Queen Bee is the darkest and the first time I saw it,  it unsettled me (but the ending did provide a sense of justice and closer). 

 

I liked "Queen Bee" as well but felt Joan was a little "mature" for the character she was portraying.  To add to the list of movies I most enjoyed from her are "Humoresque", "The Damned Don't Cry", "Flamingo Road"......ah hell.  WHo am I fooling.  I love ALLLLL of her work.  Not that keen on one can't recall the title but she is a prostate on an island or something.  Very old like in the late 20s or early to mid 30s.

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30 minutes ago, Debra Johnson said:

I liked "Queen Bee" as well but felt Joan was a little "mature" for the character she was portraying.  To add to the list of movies I most enjoyed from her are "Humoresque", "The Damned Don't Cry", "Flamingo Road"......ah hell.  WHo am I fooling.  I love ALLLLL of her work.  Not that keen on one can't recall the title but she is a prostate on an island or something.  Very old like in the late 20s or early to mid 30s.

Rain is a 1932 film where Joan plays Sadie Thompson who is a prostitute on an island.  

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