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Thursday, May 22, 2014

'The Bride Wore Red' DVD: 'Hollywood Royalty' Joan Crawford Has An Axe to Grind

Bride Wore Red, The
These musings on the Warner Archive DVD release of the 1937 Joan Crawford film "The Bride Wore Red" is the third in a trilogy of reviews of Archive Crawford films. The first shares thoughts on "The Last of Mrs. Cheyney," and the second is a post on "Our Blushing Brides."

"Bride" is a nice variation on the nature vs. nature debate that provides wonderful comedy in the classic film "Trading Places" more than 40 years later. In this case, the struggling cabaret singer Anni whom Crawford portrays is a pawn in the scheme of an aristocrat who desires to prove the related points that people of every class are the same and that one's caste results from purely random luck.

The scene in which said scheme initiates is hilarious in that the proprietor of the nightclub where that transpires almost literally trips over himself trying to convince the amateur sociologist that he has located the worst dive of them all.

This scene further quickly establishes Crawford as the tough-as-nails diva who fans of both her classic films and the uber-awesome biopic "Mommie Dearest" love. Her manner is almost as severe as her look, and no one would dare hang any garment on a wire hanger in her presence.

The selected setting for this experiment is a high-end Austrian resort that serves as a long-term playground for rich and famous guests. Living that high life is a life-long fantasy come true for Anni.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, depicts the truly fateful scene described above.

The anticipated love triangle comes in the form of Anni loving "peasant" postman Giulio but seducing playboy Rudi, played by Robert Young of "Father Knows Best" and "Marcus Welby," who is engaged to a member of his own class.

Plot points include Anni resisting her feelings for the postman (who delivers,) facing increasingly difficult challenges regarding her effort to keep up appearances, and having trouble suppressing her true nature.

Like many films of this type from this genre, "Bride" provides additional entertainment in the form of making the "masters of the universe" in the movie appear foolish and/or weak. In that respect, the aristocrat is correct in stating that all people are alike.

We additionally get the treat of watching Crawford demonstrate (not so) righteous indignation under circumstances that would have many of us slinking off in shame. This extends to demanding that the resort staff show her the deference that she does not deserve.

The final scene that leads to the last-minute happy ending pulls off the neat trick of effectively combining humor and psychological drama. It also provides Crawford a wonderful chance to demonstrate the icy demeanor that makes her one of the greats; it is very clear both that the "boys" better not "mess" with her and that this is not her first trip to the rodeo.

Fortunately for Crawford fans, "Bride" also is not the final rodeo for this "Hollywood royalty."

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Bride" is welcome to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.