Miss Joan Crawford is my second favorite movie star of all time, behind only Miss Bette Davis. She is often and rightfully lauded for setting the career standard for all movie stars to follow, but to her ever-thriving global fanbase she is equally regarded as an exquisite actress. She was less trained than many of her contemporaries, and she was certainly unprepared for the mental toll of superstardom. But that inimitable combination of rawness and polish makes her work as consistently revealing as it is consistently brilliant. I feel that the performances referenced below speak to precisely what I mean.
In honor of her birthday, here are a dozen reasons why everyone should be celebrating!
Happy Joan Crawford Day 2012!
Because she gave two of her best performances in two entirely different films with the same title: POSSESSED.
Because the finale of HUMORESQUE is silent film acting at its very best, and ranks among the finest sequences in the entire history of cinema.
Because when you cut through the camp appeal, Joan and Bette gave two of their most incredible performances in WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?.
Because she opened her deepest wounds and bore her soul in HARRIET CRAIG.
Because she and Clark Gable had enough onscreen and offscreen chemistry to turn the Salvation Army melodrama LAUGHING SINNERS into one of the most smolderingly hot MGM pictures of the Pre-Code era.
Because MILDRED PIERCE is as thoroughly entertaining and endlessly rewatchable today as it was in 1945.
Because FEMALE ON THE BEACH is as every bit as sexy and shamelessly enjoyable as the title suggests.
Because if you cut out what doesn't work, what does work in TORCH SONG is pure Hollywood magic.
Because JOHNNY GUITAR lives up to the hype.
Because STRAIT JACKET is self-taught method acting at its most self-destructive and utterly fascinating.
Because for all its vintage artifice, SADIE MCKEE is still an empathetic love story thanks to the beating heart that is Joan Crawford's performance.
Because few things in this life or any other could possibly be more joyous than watching Joan Crawford when she is DANCING!