9 April 2004 | Starnostar80
Joan Crawford at her best!
Casting Joan Crawford as Harriet Craig was the perfect decision. She stars in this gloomy melodrama as a woman whose compulsion for cleanliness and complete control ultimately destroys her. I have heard before that this movie was written as a comedy (which is quite evident in the original version "Craig's Wife" starring Rosalind Russell) but due to Crawford's coldness in playing Harriet, the tone of the movie completely changed. Don't get me wrong, it does have its amusing moments, as unintentional as they might be. We see Crawford act completely condescending towards everyone she comes in contact with. It is made quite obvious that Harriet manipulates her husband, Walter, who believes Harriet is the perfect wife, by keeping him "happy" in the bedroom. Some rather suggestive dialogue even for 1950. The absolute best is when Harriet holds a dinner party for Walter's boss. She seems completely rude to her guests who all coincidentally happen to be over 50, making Harriet look like a glamour girl. Much of what makes this movie so amusing is the way in which the dialogue is presented, as well as Crawford's ridiculous gestures. "My that's a lovely vase.,' exclaims one of the guests, pointing towards Harriet's most prized possession. "It's Ming-Dynasty" replies Harriet proudly displaying her vase like some prize-girl on a gameshow. Harriet seems not to feel compassion for anyone and tolerates no mistakes. "I was wondering if you ever intended on serving the coffee, my guests have been waiting for quite some time!" Harriet shouts at her maids, causing one of them to drop a teacup. Harriet's looks as if she is about to explode as the cup shatters on the floor. "I'm so sorry Mrs. Craig!" "Yes, of course your sorry, but sorry won't mend my broken tea set!" sneers Harriet as she fires the maid. The movies seems to keep building just to show us how wicked Harriet is, including a visit to her husband's boss which is completely unforgettable. She interferes with her cousin's love life, almost causes her husband to lose his job, fires all of her staff, and to top it off is mean to the little boy next door. "What was Harriet Craig's Lie? proclaimed the posters and advertisements for this movie. The answer: Her entire existence. The lies just continue to pour out one after the other until everyone is so far driven by it, they leave. But does Harriet learn her lesson? Of course not, even the final line in the movie is a lie. So in the end all we see is Harriet with the only companion to whom she's stayed true...her house. This movie is by far one of my favorite Joan Crawford movies, and what's really coincidental about it, Harriet Craig, the character, almost foreshadows Joan's persona in Christina Crawford's trash novel "Mommie Dearest". Perhaps Christina saw this movie too many times, and confused the facts. :) ****If you liked this movie you'll LOVE Joan Crawford in "Queen Bee". It's like Harriet Craig, but set in the south! -Mark Thomas