Above: Joan back at MGM, after 10 years, to make "Torch Song."
"Torch Song" 1953
Cast: Joan Crawford~Michael Wilding~Gig Young~Marjorie Rambeau~Henry Morgan~Dorothy Patrick~James Todd~Eugene Loring~Paul
Guilfoyle~Benny Rubin~Peter Chong~Maidie Norman~Nancy Gates~Chris Warfield~Rudy Render
Director: Charles Walters
Produced by: Henry Berman & Sidney Franklin
Costumes by Helen Rose
Box Office Figures for "Torch Song":
Top Grossing Film Position: Ranked #153 out of 173
Gross Rentals: $1,200,000.
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Stars: 2 1/2
Review: MGM literally rolled out the red carpet for Joan Crawford and the making of this picture. After her ten-year
absence from the studio, she was given a massive welcome-back reception and a highly publicized ad campaign for the film;
after all, Torch Song was to be Joan's first, full-length Technicolor picture.The film, unintentionally, pokes fun at the
roles for which Joan became famous later in her career. Joan, who was 49 at the time of filming, plays huge Broadway star
Jenny Stewart. Jenny is cold, overbearing, arrogant and hard as nails; at the least, she's a nightmare to work and live with.
(Jenny Stewart is the Harriet Craig of the stage, so to speak.) After running her piano player off with ulcers and panic attacks,
Jenny is informed Tye Graham (played by Michael Wilding, Elizabeth Taylors second husband) will be the replacement. One catch:
Tye Graham is blind. Jenny is extremely opposed to the idea of a new piano player, much less one who is blind. After relentless
attempts to cut Tye down-to-size, Jenny realizes Tye is the only person who wont put up with her diva attitude. Throughout
the film, Tye slowly breaks down Jenny's tough exterior. Although the two have countless arguments, they end up as a couple
in the end.This film is an absolute riot, but it wasnt meant to be at all. It's very similar to Johnny Guitar in the way that
its unintentionally hilarious. "Torch Song" is the prime example of Joan Crawford camp. After watching the film,
its obvious why so many drag queens choose to mimic this particular role. Carol Burnett, among her many impersonations of
old-Hollywood stars, picked this Crawford picture to imitate in one of her skits and was absolutely uncanny!
The script required Crawford to sing and dance throughout the picture. Under pressure to complete the film quickly, India
Adams dubbed Joan's voice so Joan would have more time to rehearse the dances. It would be interesting to hear Joan's voice
because it was actually quite beautiful; sadly, she rarely got the chance to showcase it. The dancing is mediocre mainly because
of poor choreography. Joan was an excellent dancer, and its a shame she was forced to perform only menial routines in this
feature. The films most famous scene is the Two-Faced Woman song and dance in which Joan dawns an elaborate costume and tropical
make-up similar to blackface. Even though the plot is not that good, Torch Song is very fun to watch. Joan was beginning to
run into her hard face at this point and was taking on those tough-women roles of the 50's. Either way, "Torch Song"
is a must-see for any Joan Crawford fan.