"One of my very favorite pictures. It was, I think, the best film of it's type ever made."
~Joan Crawford on "Autumn Leaves."
"Autumn Leaves" 1956
Cast: Joan Crawford ~Cliff Robertson~Vera Miles~Lorne Greene~Ruth Donnelly~Sheppard Strudwick~Selmer Jackson~Maxine Cooper~Marjorie
Bennett~Frank Gerstle~Leonard Mudie~Maurice Manson~Bob Hopkins.
Director: Robert Aldrich
Producer: William Goetz
Costumes by Jean Louis
Box Office Figures for "Autumn Leaves":
Top Grossing Film Position: Ranked #95 out of 107 films.
Gross Rentals: $1,100,000.
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Thank you for your review on this film.
Stars: Three stars
Review: In "Autumn Leaves," Joan Crawford is Millicent Wetherby, a middle-aged typist who believes that love
has passed her by, until she encounters a twitchy young man, Burt Hanson (Cliff Robertson) in a diner as "Autumn Leaves"
plays on the jukebox. The young man, clearly a decade her junior, is persistent in his romantic pursuit of her and although
rightfully guarded and skeptical at first, she eventually succumbs and marries him. The romance begins with much charm and
promise. It seems too good to be true -- and it is.
"Autumn Leaves" has strong, believable performances from both Crawford and Robertson, but I had a few issues
with the messages. (Don't read further if you've never seen it, since there will be spoilers). For one thing, the moment Hanson
comes onto the scene, there are major red flags from his glassy-eyed stare alone. For another, who ever said it was sane or
advisable to try to "reform" a pathological liar and psychotic? To my knowledge, it's never been done yet. If your
romantic partner throws a typewriter on your hand and blackens your eye, my advice is to pack your bags and run, not enter
into an equally psychotic pretense with him that all is rosy. But poor, desperate Wetherby sticks by her man loyally and is
determined to see him to the bloody end -- shock treatments and all. Oh, that's another thing. His treatment involves electric
shock therapy, almost as inhumane as a lobotomy, to my mind, but apparently quite acceptable at the time.
The first half is better than the second with everything moving along in a genuinely pleasing and then gripping fashion,
but the minute Wetherby emerged as a victim, it pleased me less. I didn't want her to end up with this lunatic. No woman should
be that desperate or heedless of her own well being. When Hanson comes out of the institution with half-cocked grin and gleaming
eyes at the end, supposedly cured, I didn't believe it for a minute. And last but not least, however petty, what's with Joan
Crawford's hairstyle in this? It looks like a thatched roof or two loaves of bread. The 1950's was not my favorite time for
Joan in terms of appearance and persona (with a few exceptions to the latter), but here, at least, she does not go in for
camp and gives a solid, moving performance. Her scene at the pool where she surveys her own figure in a suit with insecurity
and shyness is very real and touching.
In any case, it's an absorbing, moving and basically entertaining melodrama with tension balanced with moments of great
fun such as when Crawford confronts Hanson's family. ("Ya slut!") One of Joan's finer, non-campy, latter day performances,
but doesn't send a good message to women.