Possessed: The Life of Joan Crawford

By Donald Spoto

Joan Crawford was once probably the most incandescent movie stars of all time, but she was once additionally essentially the most misunderstood. during this brilliantly researched, considerate, and intimate biography, bestselling writer Donald Spoto is going past the preferred caricature—the abusive, volatile mom portrayed in her followed daughter Christina Crawford’s memoir, Mommie Dearest—to provide us a third-dimensional portrait of a truly human girl, her marvelous occupation, and her terribly dramatic existence and times.

in response to new archival info and specific interviews, and written with Spoto’s willing eye for element, Possessed deals a desirable portrait of a brave, hugely sexed, and bold girl whose energy and force made her a forerunner within the fledgling movie enterprise. From her hardscrabble adolescence in Texas to her early days as a dancer in post–World warfare I long island 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 this present day as after they have been filmed.

In Possessed, Spoto is going at the back of the myths to check the increase and fall of the studio approach; Crawford’s 4 marriages; her passionate thirty 12 months, on-and-off-again affair with Clark Gable; her friendships and rivalries with different stars; her robust wish to develop 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 scuffling with 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 position as a powerful govt at the board of administrators of Pepsi-Cola.

Illuminating and enjoyable, Possessed is the definitive biography of this impressive girl and real legend of film.

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I fought to maintain my marriage going,” stated Joan of this time. I consider the time an actor who was once supposedly a good pal of mine {perhaps Robert Montgomery or Laurence Olivier} saved pumping such verbal garbage in my husband’s ear as, “I recognize a few rather lovely women over on the studio. ” This actor proceeded to get my husband under the influence of alcohol, and so they went out on a double date. I obtained wind of the very fact, yet I wasn’t fearful in regards to the actor—I used to be nervous approximately my husband. in any case, the lady in query may have blackmailed him or concerned us in a fine looking large scandal. i discovered my husband with this cutie, {and} I took him domestic and sobered him up. He used to be apologetic and thankful. i actually used to be extraordinarily harm, yet through retaining on and struggling with, I kept our marriage—at least for it slow. The fourth and maybe the main compelling explanation for Joan’s obvious and coffee apprehension that 12 months could be summarized in 3 phrases: Clark Gable and Possessed—the name in their 3rd collaboration inside of a 12 months, and the motion picture that modified their lives endlessly. “HE was once, i believe, a genius who rather turned liked correctly basically after Thalberg shook issues up and confident Louis B. that the director can be a artistic asset, not only the fellow who saved the funds down and the image on agenda. ” Joan used to be conversing of her director on Possessed, Clarence Brown, who by means of 1931 had already directed over twenty photos (three starring Garbo) and may paintings on 4 extra with Joan. “He helped me so much,” she endured, and “I imagine he helped the entire actors in his movies. He made you ‘right’ and confident you that you just have been ‘right,’ and he picked up on refined issues the manufacturers overlooked solely. At Metro, i feel he was once the 1st director to go away his stamp on an image, and so much folks well-known this, yet we have been afraid to assert so out loud, as the producer’s ego wouldn’t stand it. ” Like many profitable video clips of that point, Possessed was once in accordance with a success play—in this situation, Edgar Selwyn’s The Mirage (1920) and a silent-screen model of it—but now it had the further good thing about an exquisitely crafted screenplay by way of Lenore espresso. In not more than seventy-five low in cost mins, the motion picture tells the tale of Marian Martin (Joan), a negative, small-town lady operating in a paper-box manufacturing unit, who aspires to even more than her scenario offers. for many years ahead of the common age of moviegoers dropped less than 16, it used to be a truth proved through polls, stories, interviews and surveys that American ladies overwhelmingly made up our minds which movies and households paid to determine, and as a result that have been box-office hits. Possessed struck a strong, responsive chord between Depression-era girls of 1931, disadvantaged of clients and stuck in scary fiscal situations. On their local displays used to be Joan Crawford—sensual but strong-willed, susceptible yet made up our minds, and keen, as Marian says, “to use no matter what males locate appealing approximately me” to be triumphant. In a manner, Marian Martin used to be Joan Crawford. Her typical hair colour was once restored for Possessed, an image that interestingly yet truly parallels her personal ascent from deprivation to prosperity.

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