Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Daisy Kenyon 1947

Romantic semi-noir girlie girl movie about a love triangle set in a long ago Manhattan and starring a way too old Joan Crawford in the lead role. Joan was a whopping 42 when she took on this part that should have been played by an actress in her late 20’s or early 30’s (Gene Tierney would have been perfect) and the great Leon Shamroy films her in lots of semi dark rooms with lots of shadows and just the right lighting to hide her age. And as luxurious as the cinematography is, it doesn’t work. The story concerns Joan who is a busy commercial artist who is also busy having a long time affair with a married rich lawyer played by the attractive and underrated Dana Andrews. His marriage is a wreck but he’s hanging in there because of his two young daughters played by the very good Peggy Ann Gardner and the appealing Connie Marshall. Married to Ruth Warwick a harpy from hell, who is mistreating the girls especially the younger one with beatings and neglect. Into the picture comes returning somewhat shell shock vet. Henry Fonda (also too old for this part) who takes up with Crawford and falls madly in love with her. They marry but there are complications brewing from Andrews who stills wants Joan, and finally opts for a divorce from harpy Warwick. Their scenes together are really the most compelling because there is so much contempt and disgust between the two of them that they make you sit up and take notice. The film is slick and glossy and Otto Preminger, an unlikely director for this sort of film does a decent job at directing, but I just could not buy Crawford in this role or believe that these two guys would be madly in love with her. She’s her usual shoulder pad lipstick slashed self and her looks are starting to take on that hard as nails facade that got worse and worse as the decade wore on. Daisy should have been played by a sweet young thing, vulnerable yet strong, and Crawford is about as vulnerable as a mack truck. Filmed on the 20th Century Fox backlot with a nice feel for New York City in the late 40’s and with an especially nice process shot of the old Greenwich movie theatre in the village and beautiful cinematography, this is a hit and miss film that is brought down by miscasting and a rather ordinary plot.



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