"I never go out unless I look like the movie star Joan Crawford. If you want to see the girl next door, go next door."~Joan Crawford
Joan had become known for her amazing glamour on screen and for her partnership with costume designer, Adrian. He had designed
all of Joan's costumes starting in the 1920's up until the 1940's. The label "Clothes Horse" was given to Joan,
most of her pictures were just that, big fashion shows showcasing beautiful gowns and Joan's obvious beauty. Joan carried
the clothes well on screen and became a fashion plate for all women who admired her. Joan also became obsessive compulsive
about things, she would knit furiously on the sets of her movies, she maintained an exhausting workout regimen and she also
had beauty rituals that she would swear by. She also demanded that it be cold, almost freezing, on the sets of all her pictures,
she felt this helped with her makeup and her skin clarity. Whatever the case, Joan had her ways about her but who doesn't.
Joan worked hard for everything she had in life. She put all of herself into everything she did and that drive and determination
was an amazing trait for a woman in the 1930's.
Showing off the vulnerable side of "Joan Crawford."
Joan displays an artistic fashion pose.
"Forsaking All Others" (1934) had a brilliant cast: Gable, Montgomery and Rosalind Russell, whom she would be a life long friend with. The picture was supposed to be a comedy and faired well with the audience. "No More Ladies"(1935) kicked off the year. This picture was the first in which she would work with the brilliant George Cukor. Cukor would go onto direct several more pictures starring Joan. This movie also teamed Joan up once again with Montgomery and Tone. "I Live My Life"(1935) was a comedy that did well at the box office but still was following that same "Crawford Formula" that people were beginning to get tired of. Joan also wed Franchot Tone in 1935 but there was already tension at the time of the marriage. Joan was a bigger star then her husband and ego's began to come into play. Their marriage was pretty much an open one sexually. "The Gorgeous Hussy"(1936) came with mixed reviews at the box office for Joan. "Hussy" was a period piece and Joan and was just not cut out for that type of acting. Yes, she looked amazing in the picture and the gowns were all over the top but her acting and persona did not fit in this picture and it flopped. Joan also started working with the talented director Joseph Mankiewicz; she would do several more pictures with Mankiewicz. Joan also began an affair with Mankiewicz that lasted a short time. I feel Joan felt the need to sleep with the directors of her pictures to have complete control over them. Joan's next picture was also with Mankiewicz, "Love on the Run"(1936) co-starring, once again, Gable and Tone. This picture was a big success at the box office financially but the critics were not as thrilled with this picture. This picture did help Joan rebound from her previous flop and Life Magazine named her "Queen of the Movies."
Joan wearing another signature Adrian designed gown.
"The Last of Mrs. Cheyney"(1937) did quite well and would be her last hit at MGM until the "The Women" in 1939. Joan was having marital problems with Franchot Tone and her mind was not on acting. She was also teamed once again with Montgomery, the two never got a long and the movie was not a memorable experience. The same could be said for her next picture, "The Bride Wore Red"(1937), again co-starring her husband, Tone. The movie was actually quite good and entertaining and Joan sported a new long straight hairstyle that the fans and critics raved about but the picture itself didn't hold up to her look. This would be Joan and Tone's final picture together. The marriage was coming to a halt and this was a hard picture for both to make also Joan's contract at MGM was coming to a close and she needed a hit to insure a decent contract with MGM. "Bride" failed at the box office and magazines were now calling Joan, "Box Office Poison", only two years prior she was the "Queen of MGM." Mayer had faith in Joan and renewed her contract for five more years but she took a pay cut for the longer contract term.
From the famed fashion designer, Adrian, to the brilliant photographer, George Hurrell,
Joan showcases an over-the-top Adrian orignal.
Joan was already slated to play her next film "Mannequin"(1938) with an up in coming star, Spencer Tracy. Another Mankiewicz picture directed very well showcasing two great performances by both stars. Also, Joan and Tracy began an affair while filming this picture. Both stars were married and unhappy and they were there for each other for that small period of time. The affair didn't last long at all. Joan complained of Tracy's drinking problem and the affair ended along with the movie. "Mannequin" was not the hit MGM was looking for. Although the movie held it's own, it didn't gross what Joan's previous films were raking in. Hungry for a meaty role and a hit, Joan pushed forward with her next movie "The Shining Hour"(1938). Joan was banking on this movie to dig her out of the rut of bomb's she was making but that wasn't the case. The movie was not successful and it would be the last picture she would make with Mankiewicz in the 1930's. Joan's career was in trouble and she knew it. MGM paired her with Jimmy Stewart in the doomed from the start "Ice Follies of 1939." Joan was furious with the studio and demanded better pictures. The 1930's were coming to a close, Joan's marriage to Franchot Tone came to an end also and it looked like Joan's career had done the same. The studio had already begun to push out her rivals, Norma Shearer and Greta Garbo. Joan was still seeking a role with substance, a role that would prove that she was more than just a fashion plate, a role that would make her an actress
Joan Crawford looking like a mannequin in the 1938 film, "Mannequin."