Some classic film stars I’m instantly smitten with. Judy Garland, William Holden, Barbara Stanwyck and more “had me from hello.” Joan Crawford? Not so much. For some reason it took me longer to warm up to her. Maybe it was the “Mommie Dearest” tales I’d heard before even seeing one of her movies. I don’t know really know but as the years passed I grew to appreciate her films more and more. So when I heard about the The Joan Crawford Blogathon hosted by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood I knew exactly what film I wanted to write about – Forsaking All Others.
Forsaking All Others opened in 1934 and features Crawford in the center of a love triangle with Robert Montgomery and Clark Gable. They play three young adults who grew up together. Mary (Crawford) has been in love with Dill (Montgomery) ever since she was little and Jeff (Gable) has been in love with her for just as long. When Gable returns to New York after a 2 year stint in Spain he’s shocked to discover that Mary and Dill are about to be married. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned and Mary is left stranded at the altar. You’d think this would be the perfect opportunity for Jeff to move in but Mary is still in love with Dill who finds himself stuck in a loveless marriage. What are the three to do?
Forsaking All Others is a fairly new discovery for me. After catching it on TCM a couple of years ago I was instantly smitten. The three leads are fantastic. Montgomery, a personal favorite of mine, is perfect as the immature yet lovable Dill and Gable is at his matinee idol best as the levelheaded Jeff. And Crawford is fantastic. Really, truly fantastic. She covers a range of emotions from lighthearted and gay to impetuous and obstinate to levelheaded and wise with ease. And she looks absolutely stunning. Wearing amazing gowns by Adrian and light makeup that shows off her freckles she’s the epitome of youth and glamour.
Then there’s the supporting cast lead by Rosalind Russell, Charles Butterworth, Francis Drake and Billie Burke.
Butterworth is the sidekick who offers much of the picture’s comic relief. Delivering some of the best lines of the film he’s a delight to watch. Francis Drake is Dill’s gold digging wife, Connie, and she’s a perfect femme fatale. The moment she walks on screen you just know she’s up to no good. Billie Burke plays against type as Mary’s sensible Aunt Paula. Often relegated to roles of a ditzier sort it was lovely to see her shine as a sensible elder. Then there’s Rosalind Russell. I adore her. I thinks she one of the most gifted comedians to ever grace the screen but in this role she’s wasted as one of Mary’s good friends. It was only her third screen role which probably explains her lack of screen time. Luckily, the powers that be soon caught on to her skills and soon enough she was staring in her own films.
Forsaking All Other was a box office smash. Made for under $400,000 it made over 4x’s that worldwide. It cemented Joan Crawford’s star status and became her biggest hit to date. I’m not surprised as it truly is a delightful film.