Welcome to the Q & A with Casey LaLonde

Past chats with our guests.

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: Welcome to the Q & A with Casey LaLonde

Post by charliechaplinfan »

Thanks for your answers Casey. I really look forward to logging on and reading what you've posted.

I think Joan was hard on herself in Rain, I enjoyed the movie and found Joan moving and believable.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin
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caseylalonde
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Re: Welcome to the Q & A with Casey LaLonde

Post by caseylalonde »

Greetings Stuart!

Thank you for the questions and keen observations.

Joan called Tramp, Tramp, Tramp a wistful comedy that belonged entirely to Harry Langdon. This was Langdon’s first feature film. Joan was loaned out to First National for Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, only one of three times she was loaned out during her time at Metro. The other occasions were Rain, to United Artists and They All Kissed the Bride to Columbia Pictures.

I would have to agree with Merton’s assertion that Joan was disinterested in her role in the film. She knew she was playing second fiddle in a Langdon starring vehicle and it shows in her definite disinterest in the film overall. Joan biographer Bob Thomas makes the claim that during this period, Joan felt adrift without a patron at Metro. Shearer had Thalberg and Marion Davies had William Randolph Hearst. Joan took it upon herself to make her own way. Therefore, I agree with Merton.

Joan still looked great and always the movie star in the 1950’s and 60’s. Sometimes I can’t get past the hairdos, but Hollywood was doing that to most actresses of the age. Although Joan did many guest starring turns on television series, she could have easily been cast as the matriarch of a television family, whether a western or other suitable drama.

Thank you very much for defending my grandmother. Just a peek past Mommie Dearest brings a greater appreciation of her long career and very interesting private life. My mother Cathy and Aunt Cindy claimed from the start that they loved Joan and that Christina was just plain wrong.

Thanks for the questions and comments and please write again.
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caseylalonde
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Re: Welcome to the Q & A with Casey LaLonde

Post by caseylalonde »

Good evening Christy!

Thanks for the note. It has been enjoyable and I look forward to the remaining few days with The Oasis.
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caseylalonde
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Re: Welcome to the Q & A with Casey LaLonde

Post by caseylalonde »

Dear Joe,

Thank you for the question on one interesting lady, Mercedes McCambridge. Joan biographer Bob Thomas has a good, in-depth take on what happened on the Johnny Guitar set. See pages 187 through 191 in Joan Crawford, a Biography.

Simply put, it is most likely both women were jealous of each other. A series of petty incidents escalated into name calling and outright hostility from both actresses. Soon the cast and crew had split into distinct Crawford or McCambridge camps. Among those in the former were Ernie Borgnine and Scott Brady, while McCambridge had enlisted the support of one of my favorite actors, Sterling Hayden.

Joan tried to minimize the “feud” talk spreading around Hollywood, to no avail. She said it was just a “silly personality clash.” Maybe so, but the “feud” is legendary between Crawford and McCambridge.

Do check out Thomas’ take on the events during Johnny Guitar.

Thanks for the question!
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caseylalonde
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Re: Welcome to the Q & A with Casey LaLonde

Post by caseylalonde »

Dear Birdy,

Questions or no, thanks for the comments. My wife and I always say that we were born at the wrong time. We love films from the 30’s and 40’s and find a lot of today’s films lacking the machine-gun fast dialogue of films like The Women.

Joan was definitely the fulcrum between Montgomery and Powell in Mrs. Cheyney. I enjoy the film as well and found her acting to be excellent. I am also surprised she didn’t think she was quite up to the role, but Joan was her own worst critic.

I highly recommend watching whatever early Joan films, including what silents are available. You will really appreciate how Joan matured from her flapper days to Mrs. Cheyney, A Woman’s Face and Mildred Pierce.

Thank you for the kind words and please write again!
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movieman1957
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Re: Welcome to the Q & A with Casey LaLonde

Post by movieman1957 »

I hope you'll forgive my ignorance but apart from what you already mentioned and "The Women" there doesn't seem to be very many comedies in her work. I am sure there must be some others , if you discount the musicals, but is that something she enjoyed and wanted more of them or did she see herself primarily a dramatic actress? (How's that for a run on sentence?)

Still learning.
Chris

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."
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mongoII
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Re: Welcome to the Q & A with Casey LaLonde

Post by mongoII »

Thank you, Casey, for answering that question. I will indeed check out that book you recommended by Bob Thomas.

I didn't see "Harriet Craig" mentioned here and it happens to be one of my favorite Crawford performances. I gather she felt at home in the role since she was supposedly a neat freak in real life. Did she think much of the part?

Joe
Joseph Goodheart
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charliechaplinfan
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Re: Welcome to the Q & A with Casey LaLonde

Post by charliechaplinfan »

I have The Fairbanks Album, a book of photos by Douglas Fairbanks jnr, he held no rancour at the failure of his marriage to Joan, he credited her with a great deal and if I remember correctly they remained great friends. Some of my favorite pictures of any movie stars are the ones with Doug and Joan at a beach, they are beautiful and show great affection between them.

She also remained friends with Franchot Tone to the end of his life. If two ex husbands had nice things to say about her, she must have been a warm person.

Do you think she had a favorite amongst her ex husbands, one which she wished more than others had worked out?
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin
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caseylalonde
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Re: Welcome to the Q & A with Casey LaLonde

Post by caseylalonde »

Dear Larry,

Thank you for the amazing follow-up! After reading your amazing posts #1 and #2, I need to ask how you had these incredible Hollywood experiences! Bill & Edit Goetz are legendary. As you know from personal experience, they hosted parties and dinners and knew the who’s who of Hollywood. You must have had an incredible childhood!

Your story about Joan and Bette on the set of Baby Jane is priceless. Joan doing her usual excellent job of corresponding with fans and gently coaxing Bette into signing your photograph. I love it!

Flash forward to 1963 and Joan is still going strong, signing autographs outside of the Oscar ceremony. She never forgot her fans.

Thank you for continuing to champion my grandmother! She would be very appreciative, especially considering the Mommie Dearest damage.

As we have discussed previously, the Johnny Guitar production is a story for the ages. From your experience, it sounds like Joan was at least a little sorry for what transpired. Mercedes was an intense actress and maybe Joan felt like second fiddle on the production.

Thank you again for the wonderful stories and please write again!
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caseylalonde
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Re: Welcome to the Q & A with Casey LaLonde

Post by caseylalonde »

Good evening Lynn,

Thank you again for this wonderful week and all of the interesting questions at The Oasis! I need to read Vance’s biography, as Doug Fairbanks, Sr.’s life is full of intrigue and anything that gives me more insight into my grandmother’s life the better. I am especially interested in this early period in Joan’s career and life in Hollywood, surrounded by the grandeur of Pickfair.

As Doug, Jr. was not Mary Pickford’s son, their relationship was not as close as mother and son. Joan’s introduction into the Pickfair environment was not smooth, as Joan felt Mary was uncomfortable having her to the house. Even while Doug, Jr. and Joan were dating, she was never invited to a formal function at Pickfair. Charlotte Chandler writes that Joan’s first formal invitation to Pickfair occurred only after she was married to Doug and at the request of Doug, Sr., who wanted Joan to meet Lord Mountbatten.

Joan has stated she had the utmost respect for Mary Pickford, but just never felt at home with the family.

I don’t think it was Joan’s fault, for it appeared Mary was just a little distant with some people, as you stated. Was Mary jealous of Joan’s youth and beauty?
However, after Joan divorced Doug, Jr. and both she and Mary Pickford aged, the uncomfortable feelings left. They became friendly in those later years, certainly not best friends, but friends nonetheless.

I will definitely pick up the Vance biography. Thank you for the suggestion!
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caseylalonde
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Re: Welcome to the Q & A with Casey LaLonde

Post by caseylalonde »

Dear Ann,

My pleasure! Thank you for the lead on the Louise Brooks biography. I will definitely check it out.

I wholeheartedly agree that Ms. Brooks perceived Joan’s childhood demons expressed in her roles.

Thanks again!
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Professional Tourist
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Re: Welcome to the Q & A with Casey LaLonde

Post by Professional Tourist »

Dear Mr. LaLonde,

Many fans of the film Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte would love to see the scenes that Miss Crawford filmed before leaving that production. There was some hope that those scenes might be included as extras on the most recent DVD release of this film, but there were no outtakes on the disc at all. Although production stills are available of Miss Crawford on the set, I've never seen any actual footage.

My question for you is, do you know if any of that footage survives? And if so, do you know if/how it could be made available for the public to view?

Thank you.
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caseylalonde
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Re: Welcome to the Q & A with Casey LaLonde

Post by caseylalonde »

Dear Moira,

Thank you for introducing one of my personal favorite Crawford films, Rain. It was beautifully shot with intense acting by Joan and Walter Huston. Critics panned the film in 1932, but with time, I believe the film has grown in acceptance as a solid Crawford performance.

To put the film in perspective, Joan shot Grand Hotel and Letty Lynton in the same year as Rain. Three completely different films, three completely different characters for Joan.

Joan is of (at least) two minds about Rain. In some interviews she is just horrified at her acting and the production as a whole. She derides both Maxwell Anderson’s writing and Lewis Milestone’s direction. In Newquist’s Conversations with Joan, she states, “Milestone’s direction was so feeble I took the bull by the horns and did my own Sadie Thompson. I was wrong every scene of the way.”

In a later interview for Charlotte Chandler, Joan softened her tone, stating, “Rain was an ordeal for me. At the time, I thought it was my worst performance yet, but now I think I was wrong. Because of my motion picture background, all of those Broadway actors treated me like I really was Sadie Thompson. And being in a strange studio where I didn’t know anyone made me feel quarantined, just like her. But looking back, I’m proud of my Sadie Thompson.”
With critics panning the film, I am sure Joan wanted to distance herself quickly from the film. Upon more reflection however, she finally understood she was being too hard on herself. Rain is one of those ubiquitous Crawford films because it is in the Public Domain and has been shown frequently on PBS and local television stations through the years.

Due to its status as a critical bomb, Huston was probably of the mind to blame Joan entirely for the failure. However, I also agree that Huston was brilliant in the film, never mind the film’s failure.

On a personal note, this was one of the first Crawford films I can remember watching as a small child. Rain and Mildred Pierce. Both films were shown on WPIX and WWOR in New York when I was a kid, so watching my JoJo on television was always a treat. Mind you, at that young age, I didn’t understand exactly WHO Sadie Thompson was, but nevertheless, I still like seeing my grandmother on television!

Thanks Moira!
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caseylalonde
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Re: Welcome to the Q & A with Casey LaLonde

Post by caseylalonde »

Hi Stuart!

I have to agree with Paul Merton. Joan’s heart is just not in the picture!
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caseylalonde
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Re: Welcome to the Q & A with Casey LaLonde

Post by caseylalonde »

Good evening kingrat!

Thank you for the warm welcome!

Rain is definitely an overlooked Crawford film and fans like us know good performances when we see them. Some background on Jeanne Eagels’ role on Broadway as Sadie Thompson. Rain was seen on Broadway by over one million audience members in over six hundred forty eight performances. With Eagels’ base of Broadway fans, Joan had a mountain to climb in order to make her own way as Sadie Thompson. This lends credence to your idea that Brando’s Stanley is the one and only Stanley.

I love Basinger’s A Woman’s View. I especially love that Kay Francis is the cover shot for the book. My wife and I also just watched Paid on TCM recently. Joan’s anger is electrifying throughout the film and she sure does get her way in the end. I agree this focused anger most likely was based in her sad and short childhood.

The early scene in The Damned Don’t Cry in which Joan is doing housework in her ramshackle home just cries out to me that this mirrored her childhood. Joan knows that there must be something better out there, and she strikes out to find happiness. Compare this with her late childhood and her leaving home to become first a chorus girl, then a full-scale Hollywood icon. Joan’s real life certainly did not mirror The Damned Don’t Cry, but her striving for something better sure did.

Please do check out as many of my grandmother’s eighty-one films as you can. Everything from The Unknown to Grand Hotel to A Woman’s Face and beyond.

Thanks for the questions and observations!
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