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Joan Crawford in the 1950s

Harriet Craig (1950)      Queen Bee (1955)

Autumn Leaves (1956)      The Story of Esther Costello (1957)

Turner Classic Movies and Sony Home Entertainment present Joan Crawford in the 1950's; four signature melodramas that demonstrate the star's enduring appeal as a formidable dramatic actress. Presented for the first time on DVD, these four films have been fully restored and re-mastered and offer a fascinating glimpse of the three-time Oscar nominated actress in her post-Warner Brothers years when she revived her career to become a top box-office star at Columbia studios.

Harriet Craig (1950)
Based on the Broadway hit Craig's Wife by George Kelly, this is the third film version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Joan Crawford, in the title role, plays a materialistic housewife whose neurotic perfectionism alienates her friends and threatens to destroy her marriage. Directed by Vincent Sherman, this compelling psychological portrait of a woman who married for security and control co-stars Wendell Corey, Lucille Watson and Allyn Joslyn.

Queen Bee (1955)
An Academy Award nominee for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design, QUEEN BEE (1955) is the story of a manipulative socialite in Georgia who tries to control the lives of those around her to disastrous effect. In the tradition of a Southern Gothic melodrama by Tennessee Williams, this movie provides a showcase for Crawford's most aggressive, scheming seductress since her role in The Women and features memorable supporting roles for Barry Sullivan, Betsy Palmer, John Ireland and Fay Wray.

Autumn Leaves (1956)
Featuring a theme song sung by Nat King Cole, AUTUMN LEAVES (1956) is a dark romantic drama about a lonely spinster who falls in love with a younger man with severe mental problems. Among her later films, Crawford said, ""This was one of my favorite pictures,"" and felt it was ""the best film of its type ever made."" Directed by Robert Aldrich (What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?), the film also features Vera Miles, Lorne Greene and Cliff Robertson in his first major leading man role after a memorable supporting part in Picnic the previous year.

The Story of Esther Costello (1957)
Produced and directed by David Miller, who guided Crawford to a third Oscar nomination for Best Actress in Sudden Fear (1952), this stylish soap opera is the story of a wealthy divorcee who devotes herself to helping a deaf and blind girl while fending off charlatans who want to exploit the teenager. Filmed on location in England, the movie was honored at several international film festivals and Heather Sears, in the title role, was nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Supporting Actress. Rossano Brazzi co-stars and the superb cinematography is by Robert Krasker (The Third Man).

Posters

 

Comments

Joan Crawford hit a stride of female melodramas after the success of Mildred Pierce in 1941. Up until What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? in 1962 introduced her to horror genre, she starred in a number of female-centric dramas either as a damsel in distress or a misunderstood shrew. This collection gathers a quartet of movies she made for Columbia from 1950 until 1957. All four films are directed by Ms. Crawford's past or future collaborators - Vincent Sherman (The Damned Don't Cry), Ranald MacDougall (screenwriter of Mildred Pierce and Possessed), Robert Aldrich (future director of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?) and David Miller (Sudden Fear). Despite some noir overtones and cinematography, these films can be hardly classified as film noir despite their appearance on various noir lists. The closest we get to film noir is Queen Bee, which was previously released on DVD in region 1. Harriet Craig and Autumn Leaves had region 2 releases in Spain. Unfortunately, we were unable to obtain them for comparison.

Each film is presented on a pressed single-layered platter in a fold-out digipack. Packaging is similar to Glenn Ford: Undercover Crimes Collection. Sony Pictures, once again, should be complemented on the quality of these releases - all progressive transfers are very impressive, with very little damage and no marks. Harriet Craig is presented in 1.33 aspect ratio, while other 3 films are in proper widescreen ratios, anamorphically enhanced. Mono audio is fine for all films. Per usual standards, there are no subtitles or captions, but unlike previous releases from Sony and Turner Classic Movies, we get theatrical trailers for Queen Bee and The Story of Esther Costello and a clip of Cliff Robertson talking about Joan Crawford on the Autumn Leaves disc. The usual galleries, a Ben Mankiewicz Introduction and a TCMDb Article round out the extras. This is another impressive package from Sony and TCM and a must for any Joan Crawford fan.

  - Gregory Meshman

 


DVD Menus
 


(aka "The Lady of the House" )

 

directed by Vincent Sherman
USA 1950

 

Harriet Craig is the third film version of George Kelly's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Craig's Wife. Joan Crawford stars as the title character, a thoroughly selfish woman who prizes her house and her possessions above all else. Harriet Craig is even willing to spoil the business opportunities of her husband Walter (Wendell Corey) to avoid losing her precious home. When her self-involvement causes turbulence in the romantic life of her cousin (K.T. Stevens), and when her husband's eyes are finally opened to his wife's true nature, Harriet Craig is at long last hoist on her own petard.

Theatrical Release: 2 November 1950 (USA)

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DVD Review: Sony Pictures / TCM (Joan Crawford in the 1950s) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution

Sony Pictures / TCM

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:33:54
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.55 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Dolby Digital Mono (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Sony Pictures / TCM

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Ben Mankiewicz Introduction (2:56)
• Galleries (Stills, Photos, Posters, Lobby Cards)
• TCMDb Article

DVD Release Date: November 5th, 2012
4 discs in a digipack

Chapters 9

  


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directed by Ranald MacDougall
USA 1955

 

Queen Bee offers a stinging portrait of a mad, manipulative woman and chronicles her downfall and that of those around her in this dark drama. On first meeting, Eva Phillips (portrayed with delicious viciousness by Joan Crawford) is the epitome of Southern graciousness and charm. She and her husband, a textile magnate live together in a splendiferous Georgian plantation. Unfortunately, while others are easily beguiled by Mrs. Phillips, her husband knows what a ruthless she-devil she really is and loathes her. To cope with the pain of living with her, he has taken to drinking heavily. Trouble follows when the horrible Eva learns that her husband's sister is engaged to marry the manager of the estate, a man she once loved. Like the proverbial dog in the manger, Eva does all she can to destroy the relationship so she can have the manager back for herself. Unfortunately, she goes too far.

Theatrical Release: 7 November 1955 (USA)

Reviews        More Reviews       DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Sony Pictures / TCM (Joan Crawford in the 1950s) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

Distribution

Sony Pictures / TCM

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:34:33
Video

1:85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.55 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Dolby Digital Mono (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Sony Pictures / TCM

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1:85:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical trailer (2:42)
• Galleries (Stills, Photos, Posters, Lobby Cards)

DVD Release Date:
4 discs in a Keep Case

Chapters 10

 


Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 


(aka "The Way We Are" )

 

directed by  Robert Aldrich
USA 1956

 

Few actresses other than Joan Crawford could have successfully pulled off the melodramatic excesses of Autumn Leaves. Though a very attractive forty-something, Crawford remains aloof from romance until she meets Cliff Robertson, a young man half her age. An ardent and persistent suitor, Robertson finally breaks down her resistance to marriage. After a few weeks of wedded bliss, Crawford is confronted by Vera Miles, who claims to be Robertson's first wife. Miles further insists that Robertson is mentally unbalanced...and his subsequent behavior seems to bear this out. What Crawford doesn't know-but the audience does-is that the real villains of the piece are Miles and her middle-aged lover, Robertson's own father (Lorne Greene). Autumn Leaves works far better on screen than it does in print, thanks to the virtuoso performances of practically everyone in the cast. And, as anyone who's listened to top-40 radio during the past four decades already knows, the film also yielded a hit title song, written by Joseph Kosma, Jacques Prevert, and Johnny Mercer and performed during the credits by Nat King Cole.

Theatrical Release: June 1956 (Berlin International Film Festival)

Reviews        More Reviews       DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Sony Pictures / TCM (Joan Crawford in the 1950s) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

Distribution

Sony Pictures / TCM

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:46:00
Video

1:83:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.7 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Dolby Digital Mono (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Sony Pictures / TCM

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1:83:1

Edition Details:
• Galleries (Stills, Photos, Posters, Lobby Cards)
• Cliff Robertson on Joan Crawford (6:33)

DVD Release Date:
4 discs in a Keep Case

Chapters 10

  


Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 


(aka "The Golden Virgin" )

 

directed by David Miller
USA 1957

 

The Story of Esther Costello is the cinematic equivalent of eating a whole box of potato chips; you may hate yourself, but you'll relish every bite in the meantime. Joan Crawford plays a well-meaning woman who throws herself whole-hog into every charitable cause that comes down the pike. She is married to Rossano Brazzi, who is as greedy as Crawford is generous. Crawford rescues blind deaf-mute Heather Sears from her squalid surroundings, leading to her creation of a charity campaign on behalf of handicapped children, with Sears as "poster child." Brazzi, in league with crooked promoter Ron Randell, seizes upon this as a means to line his own pocket--and one night, he decides to assert his manhood with the helpless Sears. The shock of this assault causes the girl to instantly regain her sight and hearing! Crawford reacts to her husband's outrage by driving her car into a tree, snuffing out Brazzi's life as well as her own. Sears--or Esther Costello, for she is indeed the title character--finds happiness with an honest young reporter (Lee Patterson). Set in America and released by an American company (Columbia), Story of Esther Costello was nonetheless filmed in its entirety in England.

Theatrical Release: 13 August 1957 (London)

Reviews        More Reviews       DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Sony Pictures / TCM (Joan Crawford in the 1950s) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

Distribution

Sony Pictures / TCM

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:42:06
Video

1:85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.7 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Dolby Digital Mono (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Sony Pictures / TCM

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1:85:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical trailer (2:15)
• Galleries (Stills, Photos, Posters, Lobby Cards)

DVD Release Date:
4 discs in a Keep Case

Chapters 11

  


Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 


DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution

Sony Pictures / TCM

Region 1 - NTSC

 




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