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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

POSSESSED (1947)

Joan Crawford was at her very best in POSSESSED . . . just not this POSSESSED. I'm referring to a 1931 production, also entitled POSSESSED. The earlier film, about a wrong-side-of-the-tracks girl who moves up, features an utterly magical sequence when a train filled with ‘haves’ stops long enough for a ‘have-not’ like Joan to snare a peek through a window at an unimaginable dream life. This film, on the other hand, is primo psychological pulp, stylishly put together by director Curtis Bernhardt, lenser Joe Valentine, scorer Franz Waxman and Anton Grot on sets in an exceptional late outing. But the story (Joan goes mad, that’s literally mad, when her step-daughter falls for her ex-b’friend) is pretty feeble doings for all the heavy emoting. The only believable schizophrenic moments come from the abrupt shifts from actual locations to studio artifice, though Joan certainly gives those sets a run for the money in the artifice department.

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