I admit I'm not the world's most avid Joan Crawford fan -- and "Mommie Dearest" has relatively little to do with it (and by that I mean the Christina Crawford book, not the campy movie). Rather, it's because she never really showed much of a comedic sense, something that's a prerequisite in the actresses that I love. Crawford always seemed to lack the subtle touches that made for good comic acting (although she does work well as part of an ensemble in "The Women").
Nevertheless, she was a major force in Hollywood for several decades and made many good movies. So the anniversary of her birth today deserves commemoration, and Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. has been doing just that since Sunday night. Here's the rest of their Crawford marathon (all times Eastern):
1:15 a.m. -- "Spring Fever" (1927). A shipping clerk pretends to be a champion golfer to win an heiress' heart. A silent with William Haines.
2:30 a.m. -- "Grand Hotel" (1932). Crawford and Greta Garbo in the same movie (but not in the same scenes), plus both John and Lionel Barrymore. Won the Oscar for best picture.
4:45 a.m. -- "Dancing Lady" (1933). Joan with Clark Gable...and Fred Astaire, pre-Ginger Rogers.
6:30 a.m. -- "Sadie McKee" (1934). The quintessential working-girl melodrama, with Gene Raymond and Franchot Tone.
8:15 a.m. -- "The Last Of Mrs. Cheyney" (1937). Crawford with William Powell and Robert Montgomery in a remake of a 1929 pre-Code gem starring Joan's archrival, Norma Shearer.
10 a.m. -- "The Women" (1939). All-female cast...and what a cast. Crawford, Shearer, Rosalind Russell. Lots of bite.
12:15 p.m. -- "A Woman's Face" (1941). Joan plays a criminal transformed by plastic surgery in more ways than one. With Melvyn Douglas and Conrad Veidt.
2:15 p.m. -- "They All Kissed the Bride" (1942). Joan takes Carole Lombard's place after the plane crash (and donated her salary to the Red Cross in Lombard's memory) in this "boss lady" comedy with Douglas and Roland Young.
3:45 p.m. -- "Humoresque" (1946). An example of Warners-era Crawford, this drama co-stars John Garfield and Oscar Levant.
6 p.m. -- "Harriet Craig" (1950). A woman's devotion to her home drives away friends and family. With Wendell Corey and Lucile Watson.