THE UNKNOWN
1927, Warner Bros., 63 min, USA, Dir: Tod Browning

Armless circus performer Lon Chaney falls for stunning, scantily clad bareback rider Joan Crawford (who, conveniently, is pathologically terrified of men's hands) in this typically haunting Tod Browning melodrama. Burt Lancaster once praised Chaney's performance in this film as the most emotionally compelling work ever committed to celluloid.


FEMALE ON THE BEACH
1955, Universal, 100 min, USA, Dir: Joseph Pevney

Joan gets wet! Moving into her late husband’s Balboa beach house after the previous tenant committed suicide, Joan Crawford finds her neighbors incredibly accommodating - especially the hunky beachcomber who becomes her lover (Jeff Chandler in his USDA prime). Sexual obsession, blackmail and murder are folded into a froth of suspicious neighbors (Jan Sterling!), hurled martini glasses, secret diaries and plenty of crashing surf. Perhaps the most perverse film of Crawford’s 1950s diva phase; certainly one of the best! “He was the kind of man that her kind of woman can’t leave alone!” Not on DVD!


THIS WOMAN IS DANGEROUS
1952, Warner Bros., 100 min, USA, Dir: Felix Feist

Joan Crawford called this her “worst” film; we respectfully contend that Joan was a poor judge of her own work. In her last film for Warner Bros. (could that have something to do with her bitterness?), Crawford plays a hardened gangster going blind, who desperately needs an operation to save her sight. Essentially a sequel to Crawford’s great THE DAMNED DON’T CRY, director Feist brings punch and panache to Daniel Mainwaring’s melodramatic script. It’s Joan at her “Joaniest,” and few things are more enjoyable. “Every inch a lady…’til you look at the record!”


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