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It had been a while since we had seen this movie and I remembered how hard it was to watch. I think it was well done, but more than a little painful. Joan had as many different sides to her personality as she could muster, but was very much a product of the industry of the 30ties and 40ties. I think Betty Davis was more than a lot like her in many regards. This movie also deals with the Child abuse issues, which by the way is no joke. I was abused myself as a child and can tell you this was not easy to watch. There were also things that happened to these kids that the movie did not explore and it is probably just as well. I would suggest getting the movie and watching it for your self and you be the judge. You should probably do that with out any young kids watching though and then decide whether or not they should see it.
Faye Dunaway is flawless as Joan! Her performance alone is reason enough to watch the movie. And the child portraying Christina is amazing as well, a real scene stealer. The abuse scenes will break your heart! The sets are impressive, clothing is appropriate, and the actors give the feel that you are really seeing Joan living her life. The film does give some idea of what life was like for a Hollywood starlet of the time. It must have been truly difficult for Joan to realize that as she aged not only did the available roles decrease but that there were countless beautiful women poised to take her place in a heartbeat!
What the film does not make clear is that Joan's films started losing money and her label of "box office poison" had already been applied before Christina was adapted. Joan was already 35 years old (maybe, her exact birth date is unclear) and was fighting the good fight against age. As many have speculated I believe that her adaption of Christina was a ploy hatched by Joan to draw attention away from her age and for extra publicity. Unfortunately It doesn't appear that Joan was prepared for the truth of motherhood- that once one becomes a mother your life focus changes as the child becomes more important than yourself. Thus your life revolves around your child rather than yourself. It doesn't look like Joan ever did adapt that attitude. Please note that Christina's original name was Joan, jr which wasn't changed until Christina was about a year and a half when the adaption became final. I believe that all Joan's abuse and behaviors have a root in Joan's idea that she was most important and her children were only extensions, there for her purposes and not really important as people (like some people view circus animals). Many people argue that Joan was a narcissist and narcissists do also view the people around them in a similar fashion, not necessarily as people but as useful things to manipulate to their own ends, so there is that opinion also.
It appeared that Joan had a real problem with Christina acting like a real child. I don't see Christina's behavior as abnormal in any way. Doesn't every little girl dress up like their mother and mimic her? Yet Joan punished Christina, almost as if she were actually jealous of Christina. And I think maybe she was. There is nothing like having a child in your life to remind you of the passing of time and that you yourself are aging as well. And how difficult it must have been to live with Christina as she become more beautiful by the day! That may have been the reason for her "competing" with Christina in the pool, then telling her that she would always win, to make herself feel better, by demonstrating typical "bully" behavior.
It appears that Christina really lucked out when Joan sent her away to boarding school and away from her abuse (and out of Joan's sight). Yet Joan managed to heap more abuse on her by forcing Christina to work her way through school. I'm sure this brought abuse from others who saw this as a weakness. Stll, I think that Christina was better off.
For those who doubt Christina's story you need only look at the facts. Back in the day Hollywood controlled every aspect of a stars life. They changed their name, made up a fake history if need be and even told the stars who to date and who to be seen with in public. It was all part of the great propaganda machine of Hollywood to make a star glamorous and desirable in order to keep the public interested. Abuse of any kind would have been hushed up as were the real lives of gay stars (though the truth did come out later). And there are many famous people who have admitted on camera (see Utube, stars talking about Christina Crawford) to knowledge of the abuse in the Crawford home.
It's too bad that Joan apparently never actually learned to appreciate her children for the love and support they could bring her. I can't imagine living your whole life without ever really allowing such love into your life. She was once Hollywood royalty but she died one of the saddest deaths that I have ever seen!
Overall this movie is worth watching but it doesn't have a really great plot or a lot of great actors despite Faye Dunaway's amazing performance. It is maybe a 3.5 to 4 stars film. So why 5 stars? Because this film has had a major culture changing influence. This film along with the movie has single handedly changed how people view and treat child abuse. Because of this movie many laws have been passed to protect children from abuse. And because child abuse has been brought out into the open people are more likely to see it and report it. Thus this film is important and gets 5 stars! So it looks like overall Christina has made lemonade from her lemons. So cudos to you, Christina!
Few people of the newer generations know of or remember Joan Crawford. She was the beautiful and iconic golden-era actress, and one of the highest paid, with huge film deals from the likes of MGM and Warner Bros. She made many films, but will always be known for THE WOMEN (1939), MILDRED PIERCE (1945), and POSSESSED (1947). She won a Best Actress Oscar and got several nominations. She also became a shareholder and Chairman for Pepsi Co after her fourth and final husband — and co-founder of Pepsi — passed away. She adopted and raised five children throughout her life. Crawford died almost penniless in 1977, with only the residual money from her hit films to show for, but her legacy would live forever, with her (almost) picture perfect image intact.
And then her oldest adopted child, Christina Crawford, releases a memoir in 1978, showing a side to Crawford that no one had ever imagined. Christina retells horrifying incidents of child abuse that she and her brother Christopher endured — verbal, mental and physical abuse. Christina had wanted to become an actress, and Crawford punished her for this. She couldn’t do anything right, and Crawford tormented her with verbal assaults, fits of rage, or take-away games (devaluation). She disinherited both first children, not a penny to their name. Crawford thought she’d had the last word, but Christina had other ideas...
This movie captures Christina’s alleged abuse with raw detail. The actresses who played young and adult Christina (Mara Hovel and Diana Scarwid) brought the confusion and pain to life. This movie is from Christina Crawford’s point of view, with Christopher seldom shown, and with no mention of Crawford’s younger children. (I assume they did not sign a release for the tell-all book.) Faye Dunaway’s performance stands out so much! She’s not as beautiful as Joan Crawford, but she does one of the most amazing and most chilling portrayals of a troubled Hollywood actress I’ve seen. People still speculate about Christina’s claims. Was she abused, or was she upset about being disinherited? Some people vouched for Christina’s claims, including her younger brother, while others denied everything, stating Christina was just bitter about her failed attempt at an acting career. It's all the more confusing when Crawford is mean and destructive in one scene and is sweet and doting to her daughter in the next. This is done on purpose. Was she or wasn't she this way off-camera? Narcissists care a great deal about their public persona, which is why they go out of their way to discredit their (perceived) foes.
Me? I can’t imagine anyone making up the whole “no wire hangers” thing. It had to be real. It’s too outlandish and bizarre for it not to be. It is also an accurate and bone-chilling depiction of narcissistic rage. The “no wire hangers” scene is all over YouTube, illustrating a narcissistic mother at her worst. There’s no rhyme or reason behind making this stuff up. Also, for those who think Dunaway is overacting in that scene… you’ve obviously never heard or seen a narcissist in a full-on screaming rage. They ARE this hysterical and scary! I guess what I’m trying to say is, yes, I believe Christina Crawford. Why did she wait until her mother’s death to tell her story? She was probably scared. She may have feared retaliation from her mother, like getting disinherited. Once this happened, Christina probably felt she had nothing to lose. Or maybe it was her way to get even with her mother. She got a bestselling book and a film rights deal out of it. I’d say they’re even. And I’m glad I watched this movie. It was released in 1981, but it somehow looks and feels older. Still great though. Watch it — available on Hulu or Ammy Video. Five solid cinnamon, ginger and milk lattes!
Disturbing and Mysterious. Did she or didn't she? With so many different people stating JC was a saint VS others who say she was mean and abusive- I still always wonder every time I watch this- which has been often since it's debut. I have to side with the child. Narcissists are experts at making sure they look good to the public/family/friends, yet treat their loved ones/victims like complete garbage in private, so noone ever suspects their deplorable behavior. My heart breaks for that poor little girl who has clearly suffered emotionally. The 'no more wire hangers' scene sends chills up my spine every time. Being woken from a sleep as a child where you are supposed to feel safe- is gut wrenching. Worth watching. I really would like to read the book.
People do say it's awful to laugh at a film that's about child abuse, it is, but not this film. This film is far to outrageously camp and exaggerated to take seriously and all you can do is laugh at the animated performance of Faye Dunaway, who is an unbelievably talented actress in films such as Bonnie and Clyde and The Thomas Crowne Affair. But this film sadly stalled her career and never speaks about it in interviews. Even though people say it has ruined the real Joan Crawford's reputation, I think people clearly see the difference of the book it is based upon, this film, and the reality. I certainly separate the legendary Joan Crawford and her real life to this film, which I see as a CULT CLASSIC and wonderful for drag queens to imitate. A GREAT BUY! shame we can't get most of Crawford's 50's film in region 2 and the Mommie Dearest Special Edition in region 2.
5.0 out of 5 starsA cult classic on a screen ledgend
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 2, 2013
The book hit the head-line, The kiss and tell story of Loan Crawford daughter exposing child abuse. It is not always easy watching and it give an insight into the screen ledge of the Hollywood era and what the studios would do to keep them happy and also cover up when things went wrong. I think if you put it in context of attitude of the time, (slapping kids was acceptable), bring them up under strict rules and keeping them in line the norm. It shows how over stepping the mark was ignored or swept under the carpet. Faye Dunaway is brilliant in it and I love her for it. I know it's become a "mocked" film and "mimicked" film in many gay bars or copied by drag acts around the world. But I think it is worth a watch and I felt both sorry for Joan and her daughter by the end.
A classic film revealing the pressure on the actress to stay at the top of her profession, what she does to stay in the limelight, and the devastating effects it has on her family and friends. A definite must see film. This is a five star film not a one star which was inserted in error.
5.0 out of 5 starsfaye dunaway plays joan crawford.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 30, 2012
this is more like the life story of joan crawford she is trying her best in the movie game but things get on top of her she adopts some children but turns to drink and child abuse making the kids do everything.once seen you won't forget the scenes.cert.15 124mins.this film makes you think.