DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

The Joan Crawford Collection, Vol. 2 - DVD Set Review



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</script></div>{/googleAds}For us young folk, the Golden Age of Hollywood is something our grandparents always bring out when they're pontificating their disdain for the current crop of films and movie stars entertaining the world. Of course every generation holds onto their own crop with a certain fondness, don't they?

Now in my 30's, I am starting to see the leading men of my day enter old age; Phoebe Cates (hottest woman alive!!) is a mother of a teenager; and the films released each year now start making me think, ‘They just don't make ‘em like that anymore," though I refuse to say it for at least another 20 years. Of course, every now and then there's a movie star that defies all this generational bias, and one of them is Joan Crawford.

So accomplished is this woman, her infamy transcends copious topics: She had no-less-than three acting comebacks; was famous for her long-term fling with Clark Cable; was equally famous for her long-term tiff with fellow leading lady, Betty Davis; and was even a mover and shaker for Pepsi in her latter years.

In this second collection of her films, Warner Bros. serves up a five-some of Crawford offerings that stretch from her early years in ‘talkies' up to the mid-fifties.

This collection doesn't include what many regard as her finest films, but they are certainly a fitting example of the rich and varied history that is the unforgettable Joan Crawford it would be hard to find a set of her films that wouldn't accomplish that, so it's little wonder she is known as one of the finest actresses to ever grace the silver screen.


Sadie McKeeSadie McKee (1938)


Rated: Not rated by the MPAA.
Runtime: 93 mins.
Director: Clarence Brown
Writer: Viña Delmar (story); John Meehan (screenplay)
Cast: Joan Crawford; Gene Raymond; Franchot Tone
DVD Release Date: February 12, 2008
Genre: Drama/Romance
Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Video

3 Stars

Like most of Crawford's early work and the post-depression era flicks - here she plays the title character: a down on her luck young woman, who, through determination and relentless hard work, succeeds in wealth and in love. Her journey involves being dumped by a flashier broad; marrying an abusive/rich alcoholic and curing him; reconnecting with the jerk who left her for another, only to find out he's gonna croak; :and being ‘let out' of her marriage to reunite with him... because she loves him them were different times, people.

DVD

DVD Special Features:

  • Vintage comedy short Goofy Movies #4
  • Classic cartoon Toyland Broadcast
  • Theatrical trailer

Strange CargoStrange Cargo (1938)


Rated: Not rated by the MPAA.
Runtime: 113 mins.
Director: Frank Borzage
Writer: Richard Sale (novel); Lawrence Hazard (screenplay)
Cast: Joan Crawford; Clark Gable; Ian Hunter; Peter Lorre
DVD Release Date: February 12, 2008
Genre: Drama/Romance
Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Video

3 Stars

In this 1936 pairing with Clarke Gable one of seven films they did together Crawford plays Julie, a prostitute who ends up in deep trouble through her affiliation with a prisoner (Gable). When the prisoner escapes, Julie decides to follow him and others. This was based on the 1936 novel Not Too Narrow, Not To Deep, and was thick with religious symbolism the kind that gets people picketing films these days.

DVD

DVD Special Features:

  • New featurette: Gable & Crawford
  • Vintage short More About Nostradamus
  • Classic cartoon The Lonesome Stranger
  • Theatrical Trailer

A Woman's FaceA Woman's Face (1941) **Author's Pick of the Box**


Rated: Not rated by the MPAA.
Runtime: 93 mins.
Director: Clarence Brown
Writer: Viña Delmar (story); John Meehan (screenplay)
Cast: Joan Crawford; Gene Raymond; Franchot Tone
DVD Release Date: February 12, 2008
Genre: Musical/Romance
Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Video

4 stars

Crawford started to branch away from her poor girl makes good persona in the 40's, and into interesting genre pictures. In this noir thriller, Crawford plays Anna, a physically scarred woman who resorts to blackmailing those that cross her path in order to make a crust. With her ill-gotten gains, she has numerous operations to make herself desirable for an unrequited love. That attention she so hungers for culminates in her being wanted for murder. This is one of her best regarded performances.

DVD

DVD Details:

  • Vintage Romance of Celluloid Short You Can't Fool a Camera
  • Classic cartoon Little Cesario
  • Two audio-only radio adaptations with Bette Davis and Ida Lupino
  • Theatrical trailer

Flamingo RoadFlamingo Road (1949)

Rated: Not rated by the MPAA.
Runtime: 94 mins.
Director: Michael Curtiz
Writer: Edmund H. North (additional dialogue); Robert Wilder (play)
Cast: Joan Crawford; Zachary Scott; Sydney Greenstreet
DVD Release Date: February 12, 2008
Genre: Drama/Romance
Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Video

3 Stars

This film, one of her efforts for the brothers Warner, combines her down-on-her luck persona with her latter, more ambiguous, characterizations. She plays dancer Lane Bellamy, a woman who comes into town and catches the eye of a local Deputy... who happens to be under the whip of his corrupt Sheriff, a powerful man who runs the town. Onto greener pastures she goes, in the guise of the Sheriff's political rival, and a stand off with more convoluted romance than Dallas in its heyday unfolds. In point of fact, this film was reworked into an 80's series to (unsuccessfully) cash in on the Dallas/Dynasty boom of the era.

DVD

DVD Details:

  • New featurette: Crawford at Warners
  • Classic cartoon Curtain Razor
  • Audio-only radio adaptation with the film's stars
  • Theatrical trailer

Flamingo RoadTorch Song (1953)

Rated: Not rated by the MPAA.
Runtime: 90 mins.
Director: Charles Walters
Writer: John Michael Hayes; Jan Lustig
Cast: Joan Crawford; Michael Wilding; Gig Young; Marjorie Rambeau
DVD Release Date: February 12, 2008
Genre: Drama/Romance
Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Video

1 Star
Crawford took a hit for this musical, and it has remained a benchmark in her career for all the wrong reasons. The first is not so bad: this was her return to MGM after her popularity had begun to wane and a mutual agreement with Warner had seen her move on. The second has become infamous: for Joan, her face painted black, makes the worst lip-syncing gaff caught on celluloid (until Ashlee Simpson on Letterman) in a hatch job of a film, playing the very unsympathetic Jenny Stewart, a tough as nails Broadway singer who shield begins to crack when she falls for a blind piano player. Not her finest hour.. and a half.

DVD

DVD Details:

  • New featurette: Tough Baby: Joan Crawford and Torch Song
  • Audio bonus: Joan Crawford recording session
  • Public service announcement trailer: At Home with Joan Crawford
  • Vintage MGM cartoon: TV of Tomorrow
  • Vintage MGM short
  • Theatrical trailer

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