Long before she became Blanche Hudson in WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE, and long before her daughter Christina made her infamous as MOMMIE DEAREST, Joan Crawford had already earned her place as one of the Queens of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Her movie career encompassed more than 45 years and 80 films, and included her Oscar Award-winning performance as Mildred Pierce in the movie by the same name. And although she had some great lines over the years (both onscreen and offscreen), some of her best one-liners were actually quipped in FEMALE ON THE BEACH - one of her lesser-known movies from the mid-fifties. Haven’t seen it? You can. Because on Sunday, May 31st, the 2009 Arthur Lyons Film Noir Film Festival is screening the film.
“FEMALE ON THE BEACH was a sort of gift to Crawford.” said Alan K. Rode, Director of the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Film Festival. “She was offered the role of Lynn Markham by the President of Universal Studios (who she was dating at the time).” Crawford also got to choose her own leading man, and selected actor Jeff Chandler - a heartthrob leading man during the 1950s (and who actress Esther Williams later said was secretly a cross dresser!).
Crawford’s lines, as well as Chandler’s, are absolutely over-the-top bitchy, biting and campy, especially when you consider that FEMALE ON THE BEACH was shot over fifty years ago. Some of the best include:
Chandler (Drummond Hall): “How do you like your coffee?”
Crawford (Lynn Markham): “Alone!”
Crawford (Lynn Markham): “I'd like to ask you to stay and have a drink, but I'm afraid you might accept.”
Crawford (Lynn Markham): “I have a nasty imagination, and I'd like to be left alone with it.”
Crawford (Lynn Markham): “You must go with the house - like plumbing.”
Chandler (Drummond Hall): “Whenever I wake up a beautiful girl, I always make her breakfast.”
Crawford (Lynn Markham): “You're about as friendly as a suction pump.”
Lines like these, as well as some of the more suggestive scenes in this campy noir classic actually earned it a warning for adult content at the time of its release! Today it seems tame when it comes to sexual content, but its comedic twists (both intentional and unintentional) make it a must-see for anyone who has ever had an interest in Ms. Crawford (or just wants to see her trying to navigate the beach while slightly drunk and in stilletto heels)!
FEMALE ON THE BEACH (1955) Joan Crawford unbound! The most wildly perverse of Joan’s diva films from the 1950’s co-stars Jeff Chandler in his prime as a hunk of a beachcomber. Sexual obsession, blackmail and murder are folded into a froth of weird neighbors, thrown martini glasses, secret diaries, Malibu beach locations and overall camp noir. Directed with panache by the late Joseph Pevney - a long time Palm Desert resident- this film is not on DVD and is very rarely screened. Only at Palm Springs!!
About the Arthur Lyons’ Film Noir Film Festival: Founded in 2000 by the late mystery author and Palm Springs community leader, Arthur Lyons, the popular Film Noir festival includes an eclectic mixture of prestigious and obscure black and white “B” movies from the classic film noir period. The Arthur Lyons’ Film Noir Film Festival is presented by the Palm Springs Cultural Center - a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, that was established to encourage the development of the cultural arts in the Coachella Valley with a specific focus in the areas of film, fine art, and community festivals. The Center is dedicated to advancing education, to nurturing community-wide participation in the cultural arts, and to sponsoring scholarship awards for deserving individuals.