A working girl's fortunes improve when she marries into money, but happiness is not so easily won.A working girl's fortunes improve when she marries into money, but happiness is not so easily won.A working girl's fortunes improve when she marries into money, but happiness is not so easily won.
The stuff that Joan is made of...
It's easy to see why films like this made Crawford the idol of millions of young women across the country. It's the epitome of a "vehicle".....a film designed to display all the talents of a star and make audiences fall for them. As in many of her early films, she begins at the bottom...the daughter of the cook for a wealthy family including Tone. She gets a hot scene right off the bat when she angrily defends her boyfriend, who is being derided by the aristocrats at the table, by telling them all off (this moment actually brings to mind Emily Watson's similar, yet much more subdued, scene in "Gosford Park".) Soon she and lover Raymond are off to NYC. This section is fascinating as it portrays the way diners were in that era. There's an astonishing coffee dispenser that is shown in one scene and the Automat is quite interesting to behold (not to mention the corned beef hash and 2 poached eggs for $0.35!) Circumstances progress to where she is working in a dance hall (and showing some positively scary legs! It amazing how times have changed in that, today, a similar dancer would have to have sticks for legs and breasts out to there, etc....) Here she becomes associated with a drunken millionaire (Arnold) who takes a major shine to her. Fortunately, for the viewer, she sticks with him, so she can wear an array of dazzling Adrien gowns and furs. Ultimately, each of the men in her life (Tone, Raymond, Arnold) presents her with a variety of conflicts and decisions....all of which she handles with the utmost nobility and grace. She is photographed magnificently throughout with her amazing profile and luminescent eyes featured repeatedly. It's a good thing the film is in black and white because she'd be too much to deal with in color! Everyone knows that Hurrell retouched his amazing portraits of her, but here she looks quite wonderful with just make up and good lighting. The plot is creaky and contrived and the film is just plain out of date, but it's great to see Joan in action in her quintessential role and there's a decent performance from Arnold and nice work by several other supporting players including Hitchcock favorite Carroll. One fun thing to watch for: As a precursor of the later, more antagonistic Crawford, Joan gets fed up with a nightclub singer, barks at her to "Shut up!" and shoves her backwards into a trunk! Fun stuff.
- Apr 19, 2002
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