Thursday, April 20, 2017

Harriet Craig (1950)

          Harriet Craig is a 1950 drama film noir based on the 1925 play Craig’s Wife, by George Kelly.  The sharp screenplay was written by Anne Froelick and James Gunn, and the film was directed by Vincent Sherman, who is also known for films such as Adventures of Don Juan, Mr. Skeffington, Old Acquaintance, The Young Philadelphians, and more.  Harriet Craig stars Joan Crawford, in her and Vincent Sherman’s second of three collaborations.  It also features Wendell Corey as a solid leading man, and others.
          Harriet Craig, played by Joan Crawford, is the wife of Wendell Corey’s character, Walter Craig.  She is a controlling, neurotic, manipulative wife and person in general, herself having money to her name.  Early on, she tells her psychiatrist that she hasn’t had children because her husband doesn’t like them.  But we soon find out that her husband believes she is unable to have them and himself finds it one of the greatest disappointments of his relationship with her.  Then there’s her cousin Clare, played by K.T. Stevens, who Harriet treats at times more like a servant than a relative, and whom she lies to as well.  Then she has servants, who no doubt get treated badly throughout the film as well.

          For how truly devious of a woman Harriet Craig continually proves herself to be, Joan Crawford surely had me glued to the screen.  At times, I sympathized with her, at other times I found it difficult to.  It delves into her childhood and the fact that it wasn’t a very good one, perhaps responsible for her apparent personality disorder.  I’ve never seen a Joan Crawford performance I didn’t like, but this one is perhaps one of the most memorable I’ve yet seen.  I’m surprised this wasn’t nominated for an Academy Award, perhaps because it wasn’t very commercially successful.  Either way, you’ll feel truly bad for Mr. Craig and everyone else in the Craig household throughout the picture.  And the tension between the two of them, Mr. and Mrs. Craig, at times is palpable.  If you were looking for a happy movie, this isn’t it.  This is full on film noir drama at its finest.  For Joan Crawford’s performance alone I’d give a good review, but this film as a whole is fantastic.  I give it 3.5 out of 4 stars!

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