Saturday, September 20, 2014

Whatever happened to...

 A "Baby Jane" screen shot with an expression that reminds me of Joan in her younger days. (I am only a 2nd-generation Joan fan, from 1987 on... knowing her only through video/photos. The live screenings of Joan films I've seen in the years since '87, I've only witnessed via a post-Joan sensibility---with a gay camp crowd or a "respectful classic-film-viewing" audience... i.e., not an actual Joan Crawford audience... I suppose that watching all of her stuff later on gets you close to what the actual audience of the day experienced or felt about her... but anything so condensed can only approximate what Joan Crawford meant to people in real time... In the case of this photo --- as soon as I saw it, it reminded me of Joan's kid smile, her smile in so many '30s publicity photos. And then it reminded me of what it must have been like to have first seen Joan onscreen in the late '20s/'30s and to have actually GROWN UP WITH her, Joan aging along with her viewers... While some (much?) of the audience for 1962's "Baby Jane" was in the theater just for something to do on a Friday night because of that month's media hype of the "aging divas in a shocker," I'm sure that there were also many attending out of true fondness for Joan who recognized this look on her face from all of the preceding 30 years--an old friend, a touchstone throughout their lives. Whatever happened to Joan Crawford is, perhaps, a magnified example of whatever happened to us all, of what we want to be both remembered and forgiven for.


Zach said...

Hey, thanks for reading my blog. I'm totally doing my best to catch up on all the really cool comments, but I am not much of a writer, so it takes me longer than most to express how I feel about something (in words).

I've only seen 2 Joan Crawford movies (Sudden Fear and Female on the Beach), but I liked what I saw. I thought she was totally awesome in Sudden Fear. It's one of my favorite movies.

I didn't know she had a drinking problem. She made so many movies (I just did a quick Google search), and actually won an Academy Award. Not too shabby for a heavy drinker!

Frances Farmer wasn't so lucky. She also had a drinking problem, and Hollywood ultimately used that against her. No Academy Award for Frances. Just lots of years in a state asylum (her mother helped to put her there big time).

I'm glad I'll never become famous or anything (unless it happens posthumously). It must be really hard being in the spotlight 24/7.

Joan Rivers talked about it in A Piece of Work. She didn't want her daughter to follow in her footsteps - too many ups and downs, and lots of doors slamming in your face when you're totally down.

I like your blog. Which Joan Crawford movie should I see next? I just remembered that she played a blind woman in Night Gallery (the TV show). I found the DVD at the library last year, and thought it was awesome. So it would be really cool to see another one of her movies.

Beth Austin said...

Hi Zach. I LOVED your blog! A very honest, interesting, modest "voice"--you're definitely a writer as well as a painter.

Yeah, JC drank heavily from the '50s up through 1974. Here she is from "Conversations with Joan Crawford" on her drinking (link to my Joan site):

"Sudden Fear" is also one of my top 5 Joan movies. Other favorites of mine from the '50s are "Johnny Guitar" ('54) and "Autumn Leaves" ('56). From the '40s, I recommend "A Woman's Face ('41) and "Humoresque" ('46 -- she plays a world-weary lush in this one). And for "young Joan" in the 1930s, I recommend "Possessed" ('31), "Rain" ('32--very intense), and "Dancing Lady" ('33--a musical comedy w' Clark Gable, huge hit for MGM, includes Fred Astaire's first screen appearance, dancing w' Joan).

God, I was obsessed with Frances Farmer when I was in high school, early college (I'm 49 now). My best friend and I had t-shirts made: "Frances Lives." And I had the movie poster framed and displayed for years... Despite the tragic movie ending, though, she actually ended up living relatively peacefully with a woman for the last decade of her life and hosted a local TV show in Indianapolis (presenting old movies).

RE toughness of being in spotlight 24/7: That's what the Joans have in common: Both figured out how to really work the system and had 50-year careers! With a psychological toll, of course, but there can also be a psychological toll from working at a K-Mart all one's life, ya know? :) I really admire both ladies' stamina and toughness.

Zach said...

Hey Beth. Thanks for all the really cool info about which JC movie to see next!

I just put A Woman's Face on hold at the library. Should be able to pick it up in a week or two.

Yeah, I first became aware of Frances Farmer after I heard the song about her by Nirvana. Kurt Cobain was totally into her.

Then I found Frances on DVD at the library. I now own a copy. Those FF T-shirts you mentioned must have been awesome!

I've had a couple of T-shirts made. Both feature Janis Joplin.
I just wanted to stop by and let you know that I will soon be able to see A Woman's Face.

Hope your weekend goes well for you!

Zach said...

Hey Beth, just got back from visiting your JC site: it rocks big time!

I've added it to my favorites. I'm totally looking forward to learning more about her movies, life, and the fans that love and respect her. :-)

Beth Austin said...

Zach, you're in for a treat with "A Woman's Face"! Psychologically interesting, as well as a Joan showcase.