Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Joaningo Road

I saw a movie called Flamingo Road recently.

  • Michael "Casablanca" Curtiz directed, and the film does a crackerjack job of zipping around multiple locations in a small city without ever getting confusing.  I felt like I knew my way around town by the end.
  • It's one of those movies where every little diner is the size of a ballroom, and beautifully lit, yet still seeming cozy cuz of all the little nooks within that expanse.  Lots of delightfully sassy waitresses and such, any one of whom could support a picture of their own.
  • Joan Crawford stars as a sweet young thang, despite clearly being in her mid-forties.  She plays the part well, but still looks more like your Aunt than your crush.  Multiple scenes of guys seeing her for the first time and reacting as if she is the most desirable woman they've ever set eyes on.  Maybe this is part of her appeal for her hardcore fans; the obvious element of fantasy and role-playing.  No wonder people who are drawn to drag are also drawn to Joan; she was kinda doing drag.
  • Sure, it's easy to laugh at this movie, but one thing makes it linger with me weeks after I saw it.  Joan's character wants the freedom to pursue happiness.  She gets involved in politics, not because she's drawn to the politics, but because a political power broker (Sidney Greenstreet, doin' his creepy thang) is messing with her, and she has to push back to achieve that objective.  Through jobs, arrests, love affairs and betrayals, Joan's character is never passive, never just about supporting her man, and never a Femme Fatale.  She's bold and assertive, but the film never makes her out to be wicked.  It's kinda proto-feminist; the idea that a woman can pursue happiness on her own terms isn't common enough in Tinseltown, then or now.