"I never go outside unless I look like Joan Crawford the movie star. If you want to see the girl next door, go next door!" ~ Joan Crawford.
Today, Turner Classic Movies celebrates the birthday of Joan Crawford, the Thirties Glam Queen that would ultimately become known as Mommie Dearest with a showing of films that spans five decades of her career as an actress in Hollywood. The film choices are not exactly the best, but two in particular, her turn as the murderous paranoid schizophrenic Louise in Possessed, and the venomous, adulterous socialite Helen Wright in Humoresque are required Crawford viewing. These are the movies that I watched as a child when I got home from school, or when I could stay up late on the weekends. I felt very special when I received a phone call from my Aunt Josephine reminding me not to miss the airing of a Crawford film because this was her favorite movie (and favorite actress) of all time. The film turned out to be Mildred Pierce, perhaps Joan's greatest moment on film, for which she won the 1945 Academy Award for Best Actress for portraying a long suffering & dogged-out mother with the daughter from hell. Of course, I would have discovered this film in time, but that was a phone call that I am forever grateful for. Pierce is one of TCM's favorite's and if you haven't seen it yet, it's a tour-de-force not to be missed.
I grew to love Joan Crawford's exceedingly bitchy performances on-screen, and was elated to know she could be equally as monstrous in real-life. She was expert at spitting tacks and nobody could slap a face like Crawford. Joan Crawford lived and breathed being a movie-star 24/7, and she became the Mother of Re-Invention as she remade herself decade by decade. She was also the mother of Christina Crawford, author of Mommie Dearest, a childhood memoir that would help re- style an icon into a ogre. The film version is now a camp classic known primarily for Faye Dunaway's scary channeling of the star in such manic scenes as Joan as midnight marauder chopping down rosebushes in the flower garden with nothing but the light of the moon, or the many one-liners from the film like when an exasperated Joan....umm, Faye....chaired a Pepsi meeting and pounded her fist on the table and declared "Don't FUCK with me, fellas!"
This post is not meant to be a bio of Joan's career. I do have the interest but I don't have the time to do it justice. It's just my own tribute to one of the many film legends that had a most profound effect on my early life. And quite honestly, I no longer know if that was good or bad, but it is, and that's that! I have a particular attraction to the many glamour shots Joan made with the legendary Hollywood photograper, George Harrell, in the thirties. It is said that Joan was his favorite face, and with her ambition and his talent, together they created hundreds of images from a total of thirty-three photo shoots that, over the years, would solidify Crawford in the public consciousness as one of the most glamorous movie stars ever.