Joan is a bit long in the tooth playing a spinster who is "somewhat" older than Cliff Robertson. Lorne Greene steals the show as his sleazy grifter dad.
Joan was old enough to be Cliff Robertson's mother. This was the case in all of Joan's 50s movies. Her leading men were always much, much younger than her and we weren't supposed to notice the age difference.
He's SUPPOSED to be younger than her - that's an important plot point in this film. It's why she resists his attentions at first. Were you not listening to the dialogue?
Cliff told the story that Crawford came onto him early in filming, saying she "slept with all her leading men" and he had to fight her off all thru the making of the movie. After the film was a big hit, Joan sent Cliff a ton of flowers with a note thanking him for his contribution to the film's success, and hoping they would always be friends.
Robertson also said how he was impressed with Joan's talent and committment. They'd ask her to cry and she then asked which eye they wanted the tear to drop from and do it upon request.
R1 I know her character was supposed to be somewhat older, but she looks twice his age. Despite this and the breathy dialogue Joan was able to convey real pathos as a loving wife struggling with her own insecurities.
I saw this years ago and it's soooo dull compared to her other '50s output like Sudden Fear, Queen Bee and Torch Song. Aside from the altercation with Vera Miles and Lorne Greene and the smash-her-hand-in-the-typewriter scene, it doesn't have much camp or replay value.
She really should have gone on the stage in the 50s and 60s and toured the country. K. Hepburn and I. Bergman did a lot of that sort of thing.
The overacting wouldn't have been as pronounced, and she would have reaped the rewards of audience approval.
[quote]I saw this years ago and it's soooo dull compared to her other '50s output like Sudden Fear, Queen Bee, and Torch Song.
Joan's character in Queen Bee is scarier than Mothra and Rodan put together.
The nuttiest Joan vehicles are, IMO, Johnny Guitar and Harriet Craig. The latter is high camp, but not much fun.
A lot of the late Joan Crawford movies are just depressing. Her makeup is so weird she looks like she's in Kabuki.
The one I really love is Berserk because they realized how strange she looks and really went with it. the scenes where she's dressed like a young woman are intentionally nightmarish--same with the scene where Diane Baker wears a Joan Crawford mask and faces off against her.
Cliff Robertson is really handsome in Autumn Leaves. He never seemed to get a real fair shake from Hollywood, even before the blackballing incident (and despite the Oscar).
We're running a circus here - not a charm school!
Joan, going berserk
R 8 that's STRAIT JACKET not BERSERK.
So Joan Crawford twenty years older than Cliff Robertson is his slightly older love interest.
But Lorne Green eight years older than Cliff is his father.
Do I have this right?
Wow, it's like Jesse Royce Landis as Cary Grant's mom in To Catch A Thief!
Who did Vera Miles play again, was she the landlady?
Joan Crawford was much too frightened to act on stage, R6. You've seen and (and heard reports) of her on the Lucy Show. That was filmed in front of a live audience and she nearly went crazy because of it.
[quote]Wow, it's like Jesse Royce Landis as Cary Grant's mom in To Catch A Thief!
[italic]North by Northwest[/italic]
R13, Miles played Robertson's ex who was now shacked up with Greene. My fave 50s Crawford films would be QUEEN BEE, TORCH SONG and FEMALE ON THE BEACH. I need to see SUDDEN FEAR again because I'm not that familiar with it and it sounds like a hoot.
My favorite of her latter roles is as Carrottop in THE BEST OF EVERYTHING.
The Hissing Eldergay (THE)
It's true that Joan had terrible stage fright-the very few times in her career that she appeared in front of a live audience, she had to get stinking drunk to do it. If you've seen Joan on the Lucy Show, she is visibly intoxicated.
Before the crazy eyebrows and severe tailoring
mute the sound and look at her beautiful face
It's so odd how Joan's face changed over the years. As a young woman she was stunningly beautiful, but then as she go older her face hardened into a gargoyle-like visage with those crazy eyebrows. It's almost like looking at two different people.
Young Joan, absolutely lovely...
It surprises me that Joan's eyebrows could have grown back so heavily after all that plucking in the 1920s and 30s.
r28 is correct. After Joan saw the pics of herself in the newspapers the next day, she was appalled at how she looked and never left her apartment at the Imperial House again. Here is actual footage of Joan from the event, and she's clearly been drinking.
its on youtube, I just downloaded it.
her best performance, very subtle and understated.
I agree, this was her best role.
she should have gotten the Oscar.
R21, her brows didn't need "thinning," that was make-up.
"She really should have gone on the stage in the 50s and 60s and toured the country."
Joan was far too drunk to do stage roles. She drank 100 proof vodka from morning till night.
There's a letter from Joan floating around the internet where she laments Robertson's stand-offishness toward her years after Autumn Leaves. He was apparently cold to the person she was writing to as well.
Did she really look that bad in that picture with Rosalind Russell in 1974? I've seen shots of her before that event in which she looks worse than that.
I think at this stage of her life she simply wanted to get away from public life, and this less-than-flattering picture was used as an excuse. She really didn't want to make this appearance in the first place, and only did it as a gesture to Roz because of their friendship and because Roz was very ill by then.
At the end of her life she said she didn't think she really had the kind of personality for public life, and that she drank the way she did to ease the tension.
BTW those eyebrows were real. I saw a pictoral of her from 1959 in which she was ENCOURAGING the growth of those things by brushing them, using vaseline on them, etc. and I never understood why she did this because those things made her look like a madwoman. She should have reconsidered that look.
I totally agree about using the picture as an excuse to leave the limelight. However, Joan had been drinking heavily since her youth. It was out of control for more than a decade by 1974. She may have needed booze to "ease tension" but that was an excuse too -- she needed booze to prevent the shakes she was such an alcoholic.
Here's a color photo of Joan from her last public appearance. Her face still looked pretty good, it was just that awful wig she was wearing that made her not look her best. I dont know why she would have chosen this wig at all. Also, the dress wasn't too flattering.
At this stage in her life, Joan hadn't worked in years and there were no offers, and that hurt her deeply. She had also been retired from Pepsi and for the first time in her life she literally had no work at all to do and it really bothered her. She spent the next three years holed up in her apartment at the Imperial House on E. 69th St. and only allowed a few close friends to visit. Christina was living in California at the time and did not see Joan at all at the end of her life.
Joan quit drinking cold turkey after she passed out drunk while alone in her apartment and seriously banged up her face; she had two black eyes and severe bruising. The incident frightened her enough to stop immediately, which was quite a feat since she had basically been drinking non-stop for decades. About a year before her death, Joan became ill with pancreatic cancer and refused medical treatment, and died in her bedroom. Not that medical treatment would have helped with that kind of cancer, anyway.
Christina is always vague about those last few years. I believe mother and daughter were estranged, but since she was contesting the will she had to act like they were still in touch (Chritopher being long since MIA).
Joan was ill and bitter and died virtually alone, leaving most of her estate to charity.
I will never believe Joan quit drinking and smoking cold turkey. Some stories have her falling down the stairs and breaking a leg and then she quit.
The reason she wouldn't get medical treatment for the cancer is supposed to be that she had re-embraced her version of Christian Science. Could be she was just scared shitless.
I do not think Joan looked pretty good in 1974. And she had already have a couple of facelifts. She was fat and bloated.
Plus, Joan didn't have "close friends" in her last years. She had paid workers and fans looking after her. Not even her beloved twins visited.
She was a very strange woman. All her bad choices (the horrible way she groomed herself and made herself up as she aged to make her face look like a mask; her decision to raise four children that she clearly botched (even if you think Christina is making up some of it and is opportunistic, there's no question Joan was a shitty mother); her weird choice of roles in her later years) had to do with her being a total control freak, and that all had to do with her escaping nearly complete poverty.
She was not a terrible actress, and could do decent work when she was given the right part and the right director: she is quite fine, for example, in the 1947 Possessed with Van Heflin. But she was not a naturally gifted or a highly trained actress the way Stanwyck and Davis were. She made it to the top by dint of her great beauty when young and her incredible vivacity onscreen; when those left her, she stayed in starring roles through sheer willpower. But she did not have the talent to turn in consistently good work. Her 50s and 60s films are fun only because they're so campy.
"She had also been retired from Pepsi and for the first time in her life she literally had no work at all"
Joan did retire from Pepsi, she was discharged.
[quote]Not even her beloved twins visited.
Not true at all.
As much as Christina would like for them to never have existed they did and visited her when they were in town.
her grandson wrote that his mother knew she was very ill when the grandkids came over (Joan would babysit them) and they were jumping all over the furniture.
Joan looked at one of the twins and said, "Let them have their fun. They're kids."
She must have been very sick if she let kids climb all over her now not-covered-in-plastic furniture.
More creepy than heartwarming, when you're aware of what was to come.
I can see Oprah optioning this for herself and doing a remake with one of the hot youn actors of today.
Oprah as the frumpy single slash fanfic writer of a certain age. She works at home and overeats. Blair Underwood as the anxiety ridden bipolar younger lover she meets in the Lean Cuisine section of frozen foods. He is replacing stock, she is looking for a low carb dessert. Chemistry!
She doesn't look bad at all there, R37.
After all, it WAS 1974 and everybody looked a little weird.
I hear Blair Underwood is looking for work. It could finally be the role that turns his career around.
Maybe Lady O would even deign to put him on the cover of O, next to her of course.
Is it me or is Oprah even more insufferable than ever?
Yes she is, R48.
She is an ever expanding hot air balloon, they could fasten cables to her and fly her over Manhattan as the main float in the Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Anita Loos and Rona Jaffe visited Joan until the end, as well as a handful of other friends.
The death of her best friend since the 20s, Billy Haines, in '74 also influenced her decision to become a recluse. She was devastated when he died.
I feel like she is a parody of herself at this point, Debra Wilson needs to be hired pronto on SNL so she can give her hilarious take on her.
When Kanye goes off on his self reverential tangents I wonder if Oprah sees how much she has in common with him.
R40, that is a very good assessment. Plus, MGM was more about glamour and costumes than good acting for its female stars. And Joan knew how to do glamour and clothes! Adrian and a good cameraman were her best allies. She was too mannered, too self-aware and too controlled to really turn a performance like a Stanwyck or a Davis. She did some good work in Rain (1932) but it flopped and she didn't care to "emote" like that again very much during her MGM years.
I adore Mildred Pierce like everyone else but Joan's performance, as entertaining as it is, is STILL mannered and controlled much as it was at MGM. I don't know why, really, she won a best actress Oscar for it. Am I the only one who thinks that? I mean, I loved her in it but I don't see any real letting loose, any real character development that I get lost in. I see Joan Crawford playing poor, put-upon Mildred. I guess audiences of the day thought that was some good acting, though!
R40, Stanwyck was. Or trained.
Joan was a card carrying Democrat unlike her lover Barbara.
Stanwyck was never trained as an actress, she was just a good actress. Davis was trained. However, when looked at today, many of Davis' performances have not held up well because they are overdone, too theatrical. And she was never very good in comedy, something Crawford was better at.
For instance, Crawford probably could have pulled off "The Bride Came COD," which Davis mangled.
Joan Crawford was more likely to give subtle performances whereas Bette Davis could not.
Totally agree with R55. The Bride Came COD was pretty much laugh free due to Davis. Imagine what Claudette Colbert would have done with that part. (She was PERFECTION in The Palm Beach Story, for instance). I think Joan would have done wonders with MORE comedy during that era. I wonder how she would have fared if Preston Sturges had taken a chance with her?
I had a friend who lived near Crawford, not at the very end, but towards the end in NY. Among other things, he related how she had everyone removed from the elevator so she could ride alone. He said she was fiercely protective and grateful for her fans. Remember that scene in "MD" where she says "my fans made me." He said she often said that with a ferocity that suggested that they were the only things she had left. As such, she never left her hotel without full makeup and perfectly matched outfit. She felt that if some tourist from the midwest saw her they would say they saw Joan Crawford and wow she looked great. Friend said that when she whooshed out of the building into her limo, you knew this bitch was a star.
As for Autumn Leaves, when Joan tells off the couple, you want her to do it again. It's one of the best smackdowns in movie history but it's a bit ruined when Joan has show how ladylike she really is when she turns and begins crying after the exchange.
Why is Joan mocked for acting as a love interest for a younger leading man? Male actors have done this for years....furthermore, many older gay men consistently want young partners, and rich older gay men get them. I liked how Joan turned the tables in "Berserk", by having handsome and well built, and younger actor Ty Hardin drool all over her!
Joan with severe sunburn. Sun aged her:
(I couldn't find the other thread where someone claims Joan avoided sun exposure)
If she would have plucked her eyebrows and not worn so much damned make-up she would have looked 500% better. That pic of her from the late 50's sans make-up is the best picture of her post, say, 1953 that I have ever seen. By the time of Torch Song (right after Sudden Fear) she began to look scary.
Joan wore sleeveless dresses long after she should have, and usually she wore a turban as well. Her dress sense was awful.