Joan Crawford at Work

Joan Crawford’s men: Henry Fonda (l) and Dana Andrews (r). Image: TIFF

Poor Joan Crawford.

In the 1947 drama, Daisy Kenyon, our Joan plays a professional woman pursued by two handsome men.

It’s quite a pickle, really. One of the men, Dana Andrews, is a highfalutin lawyer who calls everyone “honey bunch” and “sugar plum”. He enjoys a lavish life, including a spacious Manhattan apartment, an important Career, and a wife and two children.

Yup, you read that right. Andrews is married, and he keeps delaying his promise to get a divorce.

The other man in Joan’s life is Henry Fonda, a decorated WWII veteran and widower. He’s a bit peculiar, Fonda’s character. For example, on their first date he tells Crawford he loves her, promises to take her to a baseball game, then disappears. When he does reappear, days later, he says he did “something bad” and doesn’t want to talk about it.

This chap has some Deep-Seated Issues to work through; whether these are the result of his service in the war, or wife’s death, it’s hard to say.

Both these men are in love with our Joan, but each of them waves a Big Red Flag, and we wonder if she could be happy with either of them.

Perhaps, being the career-minded gal she is, she’ll choose neither.

Joan with roommate Martha Stewart. Image: Film Alert 101

We like Joan in this role. She’s credible as a talented and successful magazine illustrator.

By this point in her career, our Joan had been working in Hollywood for over 20 years, and had appeared in nearly 60 films as either a supporting character or lead. In 1947 alone, three Joan Crawford films were released: Daisy Kenyon, Humoresque, and Possessed.

She took the business of Being A Movie Star seriously, which included answering fan mail*. Legend has it Joan answered approximately three million fan letters between the 1920s and her death in 1977. Also: She never appeared in public without makeup.** “I never go outside unless I look like Joan Crawford the movie star,” she famously said. “If you want to see the girl next door, go next door.”

Thus, when it comes to Daisy Kenyon, our Joan brings to the role a lifetime of being Focused.

Example: When Andrews and Fonda become a bit Too Bossy, Joan decides it’s time she finds out what she really wants. As she’s packing to Leave Town, Andrews calls and she begs – begs! – him not to visit her and especially not to bring Fonda. She means it. Her work is piling up and she needs to be Alone.

The way she says this, tersely, and with unexpected depth, makes you wonder how often the real Joan Crawford – a.k.a. Lucille LeSueur – had this discussion.

In our opinion, sometimes Joan is almost too much the Hollywood Star, as though she’s conscious of the camera’s gaze and, by extension, our gaze through it.

But in Daisy Kenton, we see a woman who knows this character and her ambition, and doesn’t want to be blown off course by two men, no matter how handsome and accomplished.

We’re not making light of her predicament. We feel her struggle, and it matters to us that her choices make her happy.

Yes, of course they’re fighting over Joan. Image: collectors.com

Daisy Kenyon was based on the novel by Elizabeth Janeway, American author and writers’ advocate. According to Wikipedia, “Many of Janeway’s early works focused on the family situation, with occasional glimpses at the struggles of women in modern society.”¹

The novel was published in 1945, and the film rights were purchased by 20th Century Fox. According to Wikipedia, both Gene Tierney and Jennifer Jones were considered for the lead, but it was our Joan who landed the role.

As for Dana Andrews and Henry Fonda, their appearances in the film were due to contract obligations.

Daisy Kenyon is, in its way, a film of beauty: beautiful people, lighting, and cinematography. Even if you think the story is a bit melodramatic – *cough* – it’s worth a watch to see Joan at work.

Notes

This post is part of the JOAN CRAWFORD: QUEEN OF THE SILVER SCREEN BLOGATHON hosted by Pale Writer and The Poppity.

Daisy Kenyon: starring Joan Crawford, Dana Andrews, Henry Fonda. Directed by Otto Preminger. Written by David Hertz. Twentieth Century Fox, 1947, B&W, 99 mins.

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43 comments

  1. How lovely! Thank you so much for your article and for kicking off the submissions. 😊

    ‘Daisy Kenyon’ is one of my favourites in particular because of her two leading men. That was great of you to mention Dan’s very curious way of addressing people. 😄 I liked both men and honestly thought Daisy shared more passion with Dan although Peter was sweet and with more space/need in his life for Daisy. I suppose never really settling on either one allows me a bit of entertainment with every repeat viewing!
    I really enjoyed reading your take on the film and loved the accompanying articles on Joan. Thank you again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed! I think Daisy had more chemistry with “Honey Bunch” Dan than Peter, and maybe it’s because I love Dana Andrews in this role

      Thanks for co-organizing and co-hosting this event. I’m looking forward to all things Joan!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love your write-up review, and your choice. I don’t think Daisy Kenyon gets talked about enough. Even though there’s something a little odd — even sometimes unlikable — about the characters, I like this film more every time I see it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Could almost hear that cough.Ah, it’s always nice to have choices.Especially when one doesn’t “need” to make a choice. Daisy is 180 degrees from Possessed character.Shows Joan’s range.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. An enjoyable read as always.I definitely like this film.I can watch anything with Joan Crawford in it and I love, love triangle flix and this is a unique one for the reasons you state. As a guy, I like the presentation of the arrogant, overconfident male and the awkward, lacking in confidence man, although I’m never sure if Preminger is commenting on the weird behavior of men in pursuit of women, or if he’s behind it. If this were from today, I would definitely think it was critique. But in 1947, you never know…

    Liked by 1 person

    • You raise an interesting point, one I hadn’t considered. The two men certainly are opposites, and now I’m wondering whether this arrangement is a critique, like you said. I’m going to have to re-watch this with that in mind. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I started to watch Daisy Kenyon once but was interrupted. I keep meaning to get back to it. Andrews vs Fonda sounds like tough work, but somebody’s gotta do it! Although, I like seeing those career gals keep their eye on the big prize.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha! Yes, Joan has a time of it when it comes to Andrews v. Fonda. I like Joan in every role, and I especially like her here. I also like that Daisy’s career is taken seriously and isn’t just something to pass the time until she gets married.

      Like

  6. Oh, I do like this film. I especially that Joan manages to trudge home from a car accident in high heels and a fur coat. But seriously, it’s a very modern film. Daisy, who is becoming a woman of a certain age, realizes that she can find sanity and purpose in her work, not a man. Excellent post and a great choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great article! If you can believe it I still haven’t watched this film! But your lovely and very funny insights make me want to see it even more! I particularly like how you connected Joan and her character, and I absolutely agree that Joan was career orientated and probably had to remind many men that she was Joan Crawford with an MA in superstardom. Thank you for taking part in our Blogathon! 💜💜

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve racked my brain and don’t think I’ve seen this movie.The plot doesn’t sound familiar, though I can’t imagine missing a movie with these leads. Based on your review, I hope Joan’s character chose her career!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I like this film too! And I agree it has such modern complexities that its such a stand out film from the era. I always think that both men had an equal shot when you watch the film straight forward- but then consider the era and Dana’s character predicament you then know the answer. Still, I would have loved to see what happened had she chose differently!! Fun fact- Robert Osborne also liked this film a lot!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t know Robert Osborne really liked this film – I always thought he had good taste 😉

      You’re right: The conventions of the 1940s does solve the Dana Andrews Issue, but for a while there, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to his wife…

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Love Joan Crawford!! Love the quote you’ve used “If you want to see the girl next door, go next door.” Ha!! Did she really say that?? wow!! Such a bold individual; yet she suffered with so much insecurity!!
    From your review I gather this was a perfect role for her, much like Mildred Pierce!!!
    Need to add to my Watchlist of movies I wanna see!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve never seen this film so I’m very keen to see it. Looks like a heck of a cast! Always love reading your work and you never disappoint! Thanks for a great review.

    BTW I seem to have trouble following your blog though I’m sure I signed up ages ago – seems to be an issue with WordPress? Anyway, I hope it gets sorted out! Regards, Paul

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ack! I’m sorry you’re having trouble following via WordPress. 😦 Someone else contacted me about that, and I will check into it.

      As for our gal Joan in “Daisy Kenyon”, it’s a much better movie than I expected. Such a great cast – even the supporting characters. It’s Joan’s movie, of course, and so it should be.

      Liked by 1 person

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