23 November 2001 | Poseidon-3
It's Joan's show, baby..
There are only three reasons to see this film. One is to check out yummy, adorable Williams (later to portray "The Green Hornet" on TV) as a psychologist anybody would happily go nuts for. Another is tough, butch, always watchable Ford as a rigid, henchwoman-nurse from hell. Finally, everyone stand back....the queen of the cinema is comin' through!! Joan Crawford! With a unique and flattering hair color and a couple of dandy dresses, Joanie makes the most out of a smallish role as a nurse administrator bent on keeping her hospital stuck in the past, refusing to adapt to the new-fangled ways of Stack. Crawford, though she certainly had some major career highlights, was also seemingly always having to hang on and carve out a career in an ever-changing, ever-threatening Hollywood. That's why this role suits her so well. She and Ford make a wondrous tag-team of brittle, severe, old-guard battle-axes who do everything they can think of to prevent Stack from introducing his modern methods of psychiatric treatment. And who can forget her famed judo class in which she struts around in a figure flattering leotard (with a chiffon sweat scarf!) and tosses adversaries to the ground?! With the ludicrous, artsy, stagey band of group therapy patients who make up Stack's first experiment, how can one help but root for the shackle and straight-jacket team of Crawford and Ford?? Bergen opens the film with a truly embarrassing and overwrought scene at a movie theater. One has to wonder if it was this film which gave her that trademark raspy voice since she screams continuously (and has a penchant for tearing off her own dresses, but that's for Stack to figure out!) Paige is way, w-a-y out there in her "shocking" portrayal of a very loose nutcase, as well. There's even some unheard of actress (who was borrowed from someplace) who has an unhealthy attachment to a bird. This lady's scenes seem to be cut in from another movie altogether as the lighting and cinematography of all of her scenes barely match the rest of the film! Only the all-star cast (which also includes Vaughn, Oliver, Barrie and the shamefully underutilized McBain) makes this thing watchable. This is the basic look (hair style and color), for those that care, that Joan was sporting when she strode onto the stage at the Oscars to collect Anne Bancroft's award (as a snub to Bette Davis who had gotten a nomination for "Baby Jane".) She said she felt it made her look old, but it actually suited her well and was better than the dyed red she went with later on. Keep an eye out for the Pepsi wagon at the hospital picnic. Crawford was quite a pioneer in the product placement racket. Though her brightly-lit close-ups are legendary in this movie, Crawford actually was noted for letting the rather ill Marshall, a pal from the old days of Hollywood, get his work done first so he could be done for the day, thus causing her to be shot later in the afternoon, rather than in the more preferable early hours.