Monday, September 19, 2011

Joan is Possessed (for the First Time)

Joan Crawford made two movies named Possessed. We already looked at the 1947 film (with Van Heflin); this time we look at an interesting pre-Code film of the same name (from 1931), co-starring Clark Gable.  Crawford is Marion, a factory worker with an eye towards bigger thing. When she meets a New York playboy while his train is laying over in her town, she accepts his invitation to come and see her in NYC,  and follows him to the big city. Here, we see their meeting:  


Of course, Wally Stuart (Skeets Gallagher) is not in the least serious about wanting to see her.  Constantly drunk, he barely remembers her, but he decides he owes her some "good" advice - meet a rich man, and take him for all he is worth. Though, he - Wally - will not introduce her to any of his friends.  Marion, however takes his advice immediately to heart, and maneuvers herself back into his apartment, where he meets Mark Whitney (Clark Gable), a wealthy lawyer, with visions of a political future.  Whitney is immediately smitten with Marion, but, the victim in a bad marriage, he has no intention of wedding again.  Instead, he sets Marion up as a wealthy divorcee, Mrs. Moreland, and she becomes his hostess and lover.

Crawford's Marion is so very likeable in this film.  Even her machinations to meet Mark are down with a down-to-earth honesty that makes you truly like her character.  The same is true for Gable's Whitney.  He is a man who has been burnt, but his regard for Marion is true. He does love her, treats her with respect and love, but is unwilling to risk losing her - he says - by marrying her.  

Another fairly interesting performance is that of Wallace Ford as Al Manning, Marion's small-town boyfriend.  He is most interesting when we meet him again in the film, after he has become a success.  Watch for the confrontation between the two of them, and then watch his reaction when he realizes that she has the ability to make or break him.  It is a fascinating turn.  We also liked the brief appearance by Marjorie White as the mistress of one of Mark's associates.  It is a wonderful part, but the way Crawford and Gable interact with her is just lovely and subtle.  Kudos especially to Crawford here - her silent training - especially her ability to use her eyes to tell you so much more than the words of the story reveal, are easy to see.

Join us next time for another early film.