Directed By: Frank Perry
Written By: Frank Perry, Frank Yablans, Tracy Hotchner & Robert Getchem
Based on The Book by: Christina Crawford
Cinematography: Paul Lohmann
Editor: Peter E. Berger
Cast: Faye Dunaway, Diana Scarwid, Steve Forrest, Howard Da Silva, Rutanya Alda, Jocelyn Brando
This is a mother and daughter tale and partial biography as it is more Christina Crawford’s story and memoir.
This movie already has its own reputation. Mostly as a camp classic. Not that it seems like it was intended that way, which is what makes it more enjoyable overall is that this was done with an earnestness. Seeking to be a Hollywood tale based on a bestseller that qualifies more like gossip. More a supposed peek behind the scenes at a legendary actress that by today’s standards would have maybe been a tv-movie. This seems to be a blueprint for future films of this type.
One wonders if it was meant to be camp with Faye Dunaway’s look and some of the raised ridiculous melodrama of some scenes. It sometimes feels like an homage to the women of classic movies and the types of movies. Ms. Crawford made it throughout her career.
As his film goes behind the scenes but constantly seeks to have an aura of glamour. The film isn’t as grand as it presents itself. As it stays mostly indoors and feels like it takes place more on sets.
The film isn’t a biography of Joan Crawford, but more of Christina Crawford and her years spent with her adoptive mother. Based on her book which became a bestseller. As it is a gossip piece which I am sure has helped and hurt its reputation. These days there are so many books like this that they barely make an impact.
What gives the film its luster is Faye Dunaway over the top but it seems pitch-perfect performance which has been the anchor and mascot for this film. It seems particularly when it comes to drag performers too. A sort of early inspiration. It might have partially damaged her career at the time, but she gives it her all and makes it memorable. As soon as you are done with the film. She is the one thing you probably won’t forget. She is at the center of it all.
No matter what happens or who she is in a scene with the film And scene is all about her. Diana Scarwid Co-Stars as Christina Crawford. Has to endure and stand up to her. She holds her own but is nowhere near as strong or powerful, but gets full credit for surviving and not backing down
So much so that you barely really notice a thing or anyone else. It is legendary in its own right as it is still talked about today next to her best-remembered performances in films such as NETWORK and BONNIE & CLYDE.
The scene that helped me discover camp and made me Laugh. While Christina is in boarding school and she ends up fooling around with a guy in a barn. (The teenagers are all played by adult actors who look too old) another girl discovers them and yells “I’m Gonna tell” is so ridiculous and the tone is so over the top. Almost what you would believe a 9-year-old would tell.
So many memorable scenes that are like the greatest hits of a sort with the forced haircut, the wire hangers meltdown, or the swimming race.
The film is melodramatic, though as flagrant as she is her behavior is somewhat to be expected of what we know now
While the film is fine at times it feels overwrought and downright dull as you wait for the next over-the-top thing to happen.