Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: The Party’s Over Now

 

Humoresque
A Belgian poster for “Humoresque,” listed on EBay for $6.99.

 


I am going to spoil two films for you, so stop reading now if you have not seen What Price Hollywood? (1932) and Humoresque (1946).

Lowell Sherman and Joan Crawford, respectively, commit suicide at the end of the films. And these are my favorite movie suicides: one of them gritty and brutal and realistic, and the other over-the-top Movie Magic.

 

What Price Hollywood? was the precursor to the three—and someday, maybe four—versions of A Star I Born. Lowell Sherman played washed-up director Max Carey, who mentors up-and-coming actress Mary Evans (Constance Bennett). In this version, they are platonic friends, which is actually more interesting. But the ending is the same: Max realizes he is running Mary’s life and career, and when he sees what he’s become, he doesn’t walk romantically into the ocean, he just shoots himself. Lowell Sherman is astonishing:


In Humoresque, Joan Crawford does walk romantically into the ocean, in four of the most beautifully lighted, scored and acted minutes of Golden Age cinematography you will ever see. Joan’s Helen Wright is also ruining the life of her young protégé, violinist John Garfield. So she does what any dipsomaniac socialite would do, and—in a black sequined Adrian gown—walks into the Pacific.

Anyone who says Joan Crawford was not a damn terrific actress, watch how she wordlessly expresses despair and then resigned acceptance:



Someday I gotta write a piece about how much better the work of “Movie Star” Joan Crawford has aged than some performances of “Serious Actresses” Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn and Greta Garbo.

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About lmharnisch

I work at the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Eve Golden, Film, Hollywood and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: The Party’s Over Now

  1. Gary Martin says:

    Ah yes, movies are a silent medium …nary a word was spoken! …and we never missed a beat.

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  2. Gary Martin says:

    By the by these suicides were predated by Hedda Gabler..if not the earlier Greeks.

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  3. Gary Martin says:

    This summer I watched a slew of Joan Crawford films via Netflix. I had never seen her in anything prior to Mildred Pierce. Yes, she was a great actress …but I could not fathom who her audience was. Who lined up to see those films?

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  4. Mark Johnson says:

    How have I never heard of Lowell Sherman? He’s fantastic!
    And you’re right. That sequence from Humoresque is exquisite in every aspect.

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    • Eve says:

      Lowell Sherman was great, and quite a character–actor and director back to the silents (he’s the fellow who Done Wrong by Lillian Gish in Way Down East). Was also at the notorious party where poor Virginia Rappe died, very sweetly gave Mae Murray roles in two talkies when no one else would touch her, and was only 46 when he died in 1934.

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  5. Howard Decker says:

    Crawford WAS one heck of an actress. She was a bit overheated in her personal life, though. She was great in Flamingo Road, a cross between film noir and soap. Eve is right. Housewives loved Crawfish (as some big star used to call her, I forget who, maybe Gable) and couldn’t wait to sob at her next flick.

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  6. Laura C. says:

    Ah, “Joan at her Joaniest”. My mother and I used to watch her films together when the menfolk were out of the house. She was great in the 40s, and nobody played a better b**** in the 50s! “Queen Bee”, anyone? 🙂

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