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Saturday, February 14, 2015

"Torch Song" (1953)

This is probably Joan Crawford's most famous camp classic, a near-parodic vanity piece that's wince inducing, jaw dropping...and delicious heaven for lovers of Bad Cinema. How to describe it? Too old for the role by ten years at least, she's Broadway's biggest musical theatre star in rehearsal for her latest (hopefully) boffo show. Demanding perfection no matter who in the cast she mows down, there's still cracks in her icy veneer. It's lonely at the top in her Manhattan penthouse, if only she had a man. Enter dashing and erudite Michael Wilding as the new company pianist, but he's--wait for it--blind. You heard that right. And if you can get past that, just wait for the musical numbers. There's a WTF doozy ("Two Faced Woman") where you'll be lunging for the rewind button to watch again as the entire cast performs in blackface(!) Crawford looks like Al Jolson doing an impression of Lena Horne. Priceless. By the end your feelings go out to Joan, you can feel her brittle tenacity as she swallows the role whole, God how she works hard, but you're sadly just watching the "Mommie Dearest" gorgon you think she might have been in real life and you pity the screen legend.



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