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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Video Beaverhausen: Joan Crawford Is the Female on the Beach

Joan Crawford says to leading man Jeff Chandler, in Female on the Beach, "I wouldn't have you if you were hung upside down with diamonds." That's just a sample of the campy dialogue in the film. How about "You're about as friendly as a suction pump!" It's as if the script was written by a gay man who picked up some of the dialogue in the bars of that era. Screenplay by Robert Hill based on his play.

The word "Female" in the title may be a clarifier as Ms Crawford is at her most mannish herein. She is her own best drag queen in this 1955 film, what with her short-cropped, trendy, European bob. But she certainly has her Female Trouble cut out for her throughout this melodrama as this star vehicle places her back in damsel-in-distress mode. It looks like Universal was hoping it had another Sudden Fear on its hands. It didn't.

Female on the Beach is a camp classic and it's hard to believe it was intended as anything other than pure camp. Joan chews up the scenery with great gusto. The film is directed by Joseph Pevney, who did a lot of tv and movie work during his career, including the James Cagney Man of 1,000 Faces, and Tammy & the Bachelor.

Jeff Chandler was a hunk, and he gets to show off his body -- and solid acting -- in his role as aging beach boy and gigolo Drummond ("Drummy" as in Dreamy) Hall. In his run to jump into the Pacific, however, Chandler displays a surprisingly girly-boy manner that always brings titters when seen in theaters. (I saw this on the big screen at Film Forum, Chelsea Cinemas and Museum of the Moving Image.) And talking about titters, Joan's are as uplifted as guided missiles throughout.

Joan has a first-rate supporting cast in this flick. Jan Sterling, Cecil Kellaway, Natalie Schaeffer, Judith Evelyn, Charles Drake. They're all ominous, pushy and delightfully obnoxious. 

If you haven't seen this film, it's a must. If you have, you'll no doubt want to watch it again. 

By the way, it has a date rape sequence, controversial today but very much a run-of-the-mill movie convention in the Eisenhower era.

Now on dvd and available through TCM on Amazon.com.









1 comment:

  1. I've always called the flick "Female is a Bitch"!

    ReplyDelete