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Possessed: The Life of Joan Crawford

By Donald Spoto

Joan Crawford was once some of the most incandescent movie stars of all time, but she used to be additionally probably the most misunderstood. during this brilliantly researched, considerate, and intimate biography, bestselling writer Donald Spoto is going past the preferred caricature—the abusive, risky mom portrayed in her followed daughter Christina Crawford’s memoir, Mommie Dearest—to provide us a three-d portrait of a truly human lady, her miraculous profession, and her terribly dramatic lifestyles and times.

in keeping with new archival info and specific interviews, and written with Spoto’s willing eye for aspect, Possessed deals a desirable portrait of a brave, hugely sexed, and impressive lady whose power and force made her a forerunner within the fledgling movie company. From her hardscrabble early life in Texas to her early days as a dancer in post–World struggle I manhattan to her upward thrust to stardom, Spoto strains Crawford’s fifty years of memorable performances in classics like Rain, The Women, Mildred Pierce, and Sudden Fear, that are as startling and bright at the present time as after they have been filmed.

In Possessed, Spoto is going in the back of the myths to check the increase and fall of the studio procedure; Crawford’s 4 marriages; her passionate thirty yr, on-and-off-again affair with Clark Gable; her friendships and rivalries with different stars; her strong wish to turn into a mom; the reality in the back of the scathing tales in her daughter Christina’s memoir; and her ultimate years as a widow fighting melanoma. Spoto explores Crawford’s achievements as an actress, her paintings with Hollywood’s nice administrators (Frank Borzage, George Cukor, Otto Preminger) and actors (Henry Fonda, James Stewart, Spencer Tracy, John Barrymore), and later, her function as a powerful government at the board of administrators of Pepsi-Cola.

Illuminating and enjoyable, Possessed is the definitive biography of this striking girl and precise legend of film.

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I would like anything greater than what I’ve had out of life—and I’m going to get it! ” She sounds much like Marian, her personality within the 1931 Possessed. So starts off a movie created with admirable economic climate, combining lifelike characters with crackling discussion in a annoying tale that successfully takes numerous of Joan’s characters from the Thirties, relocating them no longer towards triumph yet catastrophe. firstly sympathetic after which downright repellent, Ethel ultimately turns into a elegant yet hardboiled moll with the assumed identify Lorna Hansen Forbes. She makes use of and is utilized by a growing number of prosperous and strong males, each one of them extra severe in felony actions; during this regard, the image succeeds so much of all as a dismal ethical myth that contradicts each unstated assumption approximately American existence simply after international warfare II—especially the proposal that cash and possessions should purchase happiness. As Ethel learns, they can not even hire it. The motion picture explores the mental improvement of a girl via her kin with out fewer than 4 males, as she learns find out how to climb her means up of their global. yet as the males are both domineering (her husband), morally compromised (the personality performed via Kent Smith) or downright felony (those performed by way of David Brian and Steve Cochran), Ethel is doomed. “I received sufficient nerve for either one of us,” she says to 1 of them; unluckily, she is tragicallyright. She turns into tricky in a difficult society and cultured and complicated to no reliable objective in a global of rich, well-dressed, cultivated crooks. From The Damned Don’t Cry, there's yet a brief step to the ethos of the Godfather videos. As Vincent Sherman stumbled on early of their collaboration, Joan not just sought after the position, she additionally made it her personal, accurately as the personality contained whatever of herself. placing at the back of her a lifetime of deprivation and unhappiness, Ethel is keen to do whatever for prestige, recognition and love. “The global isn’t for great guys,” as she tells one guy who degrades himself for her. “You gotta kick and punch and belt your approach up, ‘cause nobody’s gonna offer you a boost. ” One nearly hears Joan Crawford chatting with a studio boss. It used to be this aggressiveness within the personality that Joan sought after such a lot of all to be sharpened within the screenplay, and which Sherman quickly observed for himself, up shut and private. there's something quietly innovative concerning the Damned Don’t Cry, which means that girls have almost a constitutional correct to stroll out on a dark domestic and a husband who's a terrible supplier. The censors have been nonetheless powerfully lively in Hollywood in 1950, whilst the ultimate free up print was once submitted for approval, yet they it appears blinked, for The Damned Don’t Cry insisted housewife used to be no longer doomed to reside out her destiny at domestic, regardless of how grim the situations. Joan by no means loved this noteworthy picture—"a immense mistake” was once her description of it—and the critics weren't even remotely good vulnerable towards it. this can be obscure, for her fulfillment right here used to be complicated, with a sophisticated yet wealthy emotional diversity, and the completed movie, provocative and uncompromising, deals certainly one of her most powerful performances.

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