Autumn Leaves (1956)

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Autumn Leaves (1956) Poster

Millicent Wetherby is a middle-aged woman whose life is devoid of love and affection. Millicent's solitary existence changes when she encounters Burt Hansen a charismatic younger man. As ... See full summary »


6.8/10
1,968

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1 win.

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3 October 2003 | sadie_thompson
I must be more sensitive than I thought.
I thought this movie was fabulous. It is a woman's picture, but the tag line made it seem like some William Castle horror flick. By no stretch of the imagination is this a silly little weepy. Parts of it seem to be designed to disturb (the typewriter scene), and even the tender moments are edgy to me. (I just used the word "tender" in a sentence. Kill me now.)

Joan Crawford (one of my favorites) plays Millicent Weatherby, a 40ish spinster who spent most of her life taking care of her invalid father and bemoaning her ridiculous name. Score one for Joan already, as she was not 40ish, but 50ish. Cliff Robertson (I tell everyone "Uncle Ben" from "Spiderman") is the 20ish fella she meets in a restaurant. I think he was 20ish, but score one for him too; he's adorable. Cliff hides some horrible secret, and he's a major liar, but Joan falls for him anyway. He takes her to the beach, where they make out in the sand. (I love it when the surf comes crashing up against Joan and boy! does she flinch. Must have been chilly out that day.) They trot off to Mexico and get hitched. Then Joan starts to realize that maybe she doesn't know Cliff as well as she thought she did. He lies and then tells the truth, and who's to know the difference? Even he doesn't. Eventually Cliff's relatives get involved and then things get really sticky. Is Joan out to get Cliff? Tune in to the next episode to find out!!! Seriously, I felt for Joan. She had a rough time. First the invalid father that caused her to lose all contact with the outside world, and then this guy who can't get his lies straight. Oh, but she manages beautifully. At this point in her career, Joan believed that acting and hand gestures didn't have to go together. You sometimes begin to wonder if her arms even function. (I suspect this was a jab at the arm-flailing Bette Davis, but that's just a hunch.) Just watching her stand there, all broad-shouldered and strong, makes you realize that of course she is going to get through. Former chorus girls always do, because they've got guts and know how. Best moment--after Joan decides she's no good for Cliff, she goes back to that aforementioned beach and just sits there. It's a lovely shot, and Joan looks less ironclad than usual.

By the by, a note to the other reviewer whose name I can't remember. Joan Crawford would not DARE say "And you, YA slut." She says, very precisely, "And you, YOU slut." Enunciation was very important to the Texas-born Lucille LeSueur/Joan Crawford. Bette Davis might say "ya slut," but never Joan Crawford.

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