9 February 2014 | museumofdave
A Crawford Classic It Ain't...
This is essentially a soap opera in so many ways, and the money spent (or lack of it) on location settings or interiors appears to be minimal. Crawford plays Della, a grand, nervous, demanding, slightly off-kilter grande dame who hides in isolation with her strange daughter high above the city's noise and hustle. A hot-shot lawyer operating for an outside corporation wants to purchase a huge chunk of Crawford's property--but she's not budging! Nobody pushes Joan around!
What plot follows is not half as mesmerizing as the period automobiles in glittering pastels or the various fashion statements that Crawford parades as if she had been born to them (one may notice, however, that almost all of her close-ups shift to a very soft focus--no need to adjust your television). Della has lived in this lavishly furnished mansion for decades, but if one looks closely at the garish flower arrangements, the truly tatty color combinations in the carpets and curtains and the weird accent colors chosen by some set decorator in a very big hurry with a very small choice, the corners cut are clear. The same goes for the tacky statues plopped down around the pool, particularly the one dubbed "The Sun God," looking like something from an old Tarzan movie that keeps ending up with flowers stuffed in its mouth for no apparent reason.
But reason isn't what this frenetic melodrama is all about--as you can tell from this review, half the fun of it is enjoying the trappings of a late period Tinseltown Product, a sprinkling of several fine character actors--Charles Bickford and Richard Carlson (looking utterly exhausted!) and the always commanding Joan , rising above the situation just as she did in Mildred Pierce, Flamingo Road or the almost perfect Humoresque . By this time, however, the studios were largely finished, had sold of most of their lavish inventory, and only cared about what money might be made from television. This is primarily a curiosity, and one must bring a good deal of suspended disbelief to the party to enjoy it.