Monday, April 4, 2011

Joan Gets "Fancy"

In 1951, Joan Crawford starred in a delightful comedy with a political bent - Goodbye, My Fancy.  Ms. Crawford is Congresswoman Agatha Reed, invited by her alma mater, to return for the graduation ceremony to receive an honorary degree.  There are, of course, some complications.  For one, Agatha never graduated from the school - she was dismissed for staying out all night with a man.  Another is that her former fiance (Robert Young) is now the dean of the college.  Trailing after Agatha to the ceremony is photographer Matt Cole (Frank Lovejoy) her romantic interest during the war, when she was a war correspondent. And then there is the film that Agatha recently released, on her experiences during the war and the effects of tyranny on intellectual freedom. 

There is no question here of age appropriateness. Agatha IS an older woman.  She's had at least two successful careers and her former beau has a 22 year-old daughter.  Yes, she was his student (making him a few years older), but she is a mature woman, and Crawford plays it as such.  She is also a woman deeply in love with a memory.  And we get to watch as she decided between Young and Lovejoy.  Acting as our commentator is the always delightful Eve Arden.  No movie with Eve Arden in it is ever dull, but Ms. Arden is at her witty best here.  We think she got all the best lines.  She is a riot!
Robert Young, unfortunately, doesn't get to do much here, which is too bad.  Always an interesting actor to watch, he is eye candy here - Agatha's past incarnate.  Her future, too, she hopes.  But a future that will completely alter all she has accomplished in her past.

Without giving away the ending, we found the film fascinating for its view of the importance of career to women and for its emphasis on the importance of freedom of speech. In an era where the House Un-American Activities Committee was abrogating the rights of the free speech of all Americans, this is a daring statement.

Before we go, here is a copy of the trailer:

Next time, another Crawford film from the 1950's

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