Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Joan Is Busting Out All Over

Sorry I have been remiss about posting to my blog. I could make up an excuse that I didn't have a lot of pre-code news to report or movies to review, but that is not necessarily the case (I have a backlog of TCM movies on my TiVo and a Busby Berkeley box set to get to). So as long as you accept my apologies, I will move on!

Joan Crawford is (perhaps unfairly) remembered more for her alleged failings as a mother (see this month's "Mommie Dearest: Hollywood Royalty Edition") or her camp classics (see the new 2-Disc Special Edition of "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"). While both films are entertaining to say the least, I think Joan would rather we remember her when she was young and beautiful and one of MGM's biggest stars. We get a glimpse of that Joan in the pre-code musical "Dancing Lady" (available on DVD 6/20 both individually and as part of the new "Clark Gable: The Signature Collection" box set). Though I have not yet seen the film, I love seeing early Clark Gable films since the studio didn't quite know what to do with its rising star, casting him in "heavy" roles instead of suave leading man. Here, he gets to show a comedic side in this backstage musical featuring Crawford's future husband Franchot Tone as his romantic rival. This film features an amazing supporting cast: Fred Astaire (in his first sound feature), May Robson, writer Robert Benchley, Eve Arden (in a bit part), and even The Three Stooges! If that lineup is not incentive to seek out this film, I don't know what is!

And speaking of Joan, I bet she would also be quite proud of her Oscar-winning performance in "Mildred Pierce." This noir classic will be shown at a very special screening on July 21st at The Castro Theatre in San Francisco. Hold on to your pie plates, because this benefit screening will feature a live appearance by Ann Blyth (who played Veda, Mildred's ingrate daughter, to perfection)! Noir czar Eddie Muller will interview Miss Blyth prior to the screening in what promises to be a fascinating evening. Tickets are available by calling 415-863-0611 or at ticketweb.com. Hope to see you there!