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Joan Crawford


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After that book and that movie and tonight's documentary, I don't see how anyone could ever admire Joan as a person. We'll have to go out of our way to try to set aside what we know about her personal bad habits if we want to try to enjoy some of her performances in her earlier films. Joan even said in one of her recorded interviews played tonight that she took her children's most favorite Chistmas presents away from them to teach them some kind of "lesson". The dame was crazy.

 

This is why I don't want to read any more stories about actors' personal lives. I want to enjoy their movies and think of them as being the characters they play in their movies. I avoid watching some of TCM's tell-all documentaries, and I should have avoided the one tonight.

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I agree with Fred, sometimes we learn a little too much about our celebrities. Joan Crawford was a very talented actress, but she had her personal issues and being a high profile celebrity often distorts a persons behavior. She may have had the financial ability to adopt children but the demands of her career (and the priorities she put on her responsiblities) made her a lousy parent.

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I wouldn't expect many of the great actors to have been angels in their lives, they had to have something more to know how to act out many situations.

 

Nothing Joan Crawford did would suprise me, should it really make her movies any worse that perhaps she lived parts of them?

 

Was Brando always a gentleman in his life?

 

If any of this went to trial I am sure they would claim they were studying for a part, lol. I seem to recall that being claimed a few times already.

 

 

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I saw Mommie Dearest long before I saw any of Joan Crawford's films, and I have to say that I think it tainted me in seeing JC objectively. I've watched a fair amount of her films, but I can't seem to get beyond this perception of her as "strange". Mommie Dearest became such a cult classic that her reputation was as good as trashed after that. It's too bad... I thought Mildred Pierce was okay but I wouldn't reach for Joan's movies first on a given night.

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I would like to see them make a pre-quel movie on Joan Crawford before The Mommie Dearest years. Her early childhood with her mother and brother making ends meet. Her days in those horrific schools working as a servant to pay her tuition, the abuse by her step-dads and her time on the Broadway stage in the 20s as a chorus girl would make quite a compelling movie. The movie would end as MD began.

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I never read Mommie Dearest, but I do know that I've seen at least 15 or 20 Crawford movies that I wouldn't mind seeing again. She's no Stanwyck or Moreau, but she always gave you your money's worth, and for a career that lasted over 40 years, that's no small feat in itself.

 

And in The Women, she may have had one of the greatest comic lines in Hollywood history, when she sent Rosalind Russell sprawling into the department store's dustbin with that "Do come again, Mrs. *PROWLER*"

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Well it a good thing that the personal life of an artist (e.g. actor, musician, singer, painter etc..) doesn't impact how I view their art unless they inject their personal life or views into their art.

 

I was never much of a Joan Crawford fan until the last few years. Being more of a Warner studio fan than an MGM fan I had seen her late 40s Warner movies and liked them but now I'm into her Pre-Code movies and some of her other MGM films. Yea, some are only OK but she made so many one can find gems if they look for them.

 

I don't see the goal as trying to NOT learn too much (which in this media age is difficut). Instead the goal should be to not let the the personal life of an artist impact one's viewing of their art.

 

 

 

 

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"Well it a good thing that the personal life of an artist (e.g. actor, musician, singer, painter etc..) doesn't impact how I view their art unless they inject their personal life or views into their art."

 

I guess it would depend on the case in question. It's hard for some people to separate Joan's work from her private life because what Joan did was pretty extreme (horrific child abuse). In another case, like say, John Barrymore's alcoholism, it may be a little easier to "forget" this when watching him in a role. Plus, in Joan's case, Mommy Dearest was hyped over and over again to the point where people who didn't know her would never forget her (in one slanted pointed of view).

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*Well it a good thing that the personal life of an artist (e.g. actor, musician, singer, painter etc..) doesn't impact how I view their art unless they inject their personal life or views into their art.*

 

A recent example would be Woody Allen. I can no longer look at say MANHATTAN with a young Mariel Hemingway and not see the situation with his underage adopted (step?) daughter. However, I can still enjoy his other movies that don't have him after nubile young girls, although his whiny alter egos are as annoying as ever (i.e. the current MIDNIGHT IN PARIS).

 

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I didn't say it was easy to not let the personal life of someone impact the enjoyment of their movies. Hey, sometimes I fail at this also. Typically politics doesn't have much of an impact while with someone like Polanski it is a lot harder to push their personal life out of 'view'.

 

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Honestly, I find the older I get, the more I feel bad for her, because I do respect her as an actress. My first exposure to the persona of Joan Crawford was the movie Mommie Dearest. I, like most people, thought, what an awful person! I was a child with functioning parents, so she seemed terrifying. But now that I'm a grown woman, I've seen and enjoyed many of her films. I've also known people with problems, and I think she clearly had a significant amount of trauma in her life. The drinking, the obsession with cleanliness, the rages, the neediness, the frequent adultery. These are all numbing techniques. This was a woman with SERIOUS anxiety problems. It's tragic that someone with so much talent was floundering around frantically, and there was no structure in place at the time to help her.

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I see the point you are making but people need to remember that Joan was born in 1904. Thus in those Warner movies of the 40s she was in her 40s. Many of the other actresses that were stars in the 30s were only in their 30s during the 40s.

 

Did Joan age worst than other actresses? Look worst in her 40s and early 50s than others? OK I will have to say Yes to that, but not a lot worst.

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Back in 1964 I read an abridged bio of her in *Ladies Home Journal* which described her as a woman "not quite grown up". I agree. She had "street smarts" but not the kind of family life that fostered emotional maturity. As the documentary stated girls who have no healthy relationship with their father or a strong father figure grow up to not trust men or their ability to attract or hold one. All of this seems to fit Lucille/Billie/Joan. The magzine bio also said that she was a chubby teen who was called "the fat little girl" by one of the stage managers where she danced; this might be why she was so obsessed with her looks. Unfortunately, as she aged she didn't seem to know what was best for her in that regard. That she obtained any kind of success for such a long time is admirable; that she could not do so in her private life is tragic. I'm still not a big fan but feel positive as well as negative about her. Like the rest of us, she was a human being.

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There are probably Crawford experts on these boards who would know for sure, but I believe that Joan had plastic surgery before *Torch Song* (1953), and after that her face didn't move much. As others have said, she was beautiful when she was younger, but after the surgery she had a very hard look.

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There is an inn-teresting 15 minute featurette on the Flamingo Road DVD called Crawford at Warners that profiles her career at the studio and how the pressures of maintaining her image, her allure, and her box office clout drove her drinking (already pretty bad) to become out of control.

 

There really are two major Crawfords: pre- Mildred and post- Mildred . Yes, she was much prettier pre-1945 (although she did go through a scary period in the late thirties), but her material and her acting is better post-1945 (although she is great in Rain and Grand Hotel ). It's a shame MGM didn't put her in more vehicles like she had at Warners: hard, fast, heavily tinted in noir , a handgun in the pocket of every mink. As Eddie Muller says in his book Dark City: The Lost Art of Film Noir

 

" noir and Joan Crawford were a perfect fit, it let some of Lucille LeSuer resurface."

 

(I'm paraphrasing from memory and I'm sure I misspelled "LeSuer" for all you sticklers out there)

 

I vastly prefer her post- Mildred period, as most of her MGM films after Sadie McKee and before The Women (and most after The Women ) are terrible; and her Warners pictures are such delightful relics of a bygone era, when a studio put money behind a slightly-past-her-sell-date STAR, her confidence buoyed by a chance comeback, ace supporting players, crack direction and production values and pretty solid scripts...at least up to Goodbye My Fancy and This Woman is Dangerous

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I guess I'm one of those people who were (I now think unfairly) influenced by the whole Mommie Dearest drama. In the past decade or so I discovered Joan Crawford on her (and my) own terms and I can now say I really like her. I saw the 1931 "Possesed" for the first time this week and I thought it was fascinating. Not only because of its pre-code sensibility and tone, but because of the excitement a young Crawford brought to it. I can see now how she made an early career out of playing the 'wrong side of the tracks' type. Yes, it was before she got that "hard Joan Crawford" look of the late 40's and 50's. She was really a beautiful woman in the 30's.

As for all that other stuff: Who among us could withstand the kind of scrutiny she has been put under? Was she a great parent? Was she an alcoholic? A clean freak? Who knows? Yes, I've heard all the stories; I've also read the accounts of her two younger daughters who dispute all of the other stuff. Bottom line is that it's not really for me to say. I want to enjoy her movies and l will let all the arm-chair psychoanalysts do their thing. I will no longer let it taint my enjoyment of this incredible star.

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Agree. Most of her MGM films are junk. Only a handful of good roles. (Shearer and Garbo got most of the good ones...) She gets to wear great clothes and look beautiful, but not much else........

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Yes, it's true Joan's younger daughters claim they were not abused, but they also didnt live with Joan during the earlier period when it was just Christina and Christopher........I still enjoy watching Joan (depending on the film)

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