This absolutely riveting biographical drama about Joan Crawford is based on her adopted daughter Christina’s vengeful memoir.
Christina’s book, prosaic as it may be, doesn’t just expose her mother’s alcoholism and child beating. It tells a nightmare fairy tale about an orphan girl who gets a chance to live like a princess – only to realise that her stepmother the Queen is really the Wicked Witch of the West Coast.
Faye Dunaway is astonishing as Crawford, risen from rags to bitches, who still scrubs the floors, runs rings around studio bosses and creates a living hell for her daughter (brilliantly played by young Mara Hobel and, as she grows up, by Diana Scarwid).
When Crawford yells “Tina! Bring me the axe!” because she wants to prune the roses, or when she screams “No wire hangers!”, the movie enters an asylum of its own.
This is lavish and pretty accurate as far as Hollywood lore is concerned, but Dunaway makes Norma Desmond look like Doris Day.
Louis B Mayer
Howard Da Silva
Christina as a child
Christopher as a child
Jeremy Scott Reinbolt