Joan back at MGM, after 10 years, to make "Torch Song."
"Torch Song" 1953
This page is dedicated to David Cerda - a marvelous Joan fan! Keep the camp alive!
Cast: Joan Crawford (as Jenny Stewart), Michael Wilding, Gig Young, Marjorie Rambeau, Henry Morgan, Dorothy Patrick, James
Todd, Eugene Loring, Paul Guilfoyle, Benny Rubin, Peter Chong, Maidie Norman, Nancy Gates, Chris Warfield, Rudy Render
Jenny Stewart (Joan) is the quintessential Broadway star, who falls in love with her blind pianist, Tye Graham (Michael Wilding).
At a rehearsal for her new show, temperamental Broadway star Jenny Stewart lashes out at anyone who displeases her, from her
dance partner to her arranger, Charlie Maylor (Benny Rubin), who has been driven to drink by her bullying. After abruptly
walking out of the rehearsal, Jenny goes home and practices a scene with her sympathetic secretary, Anne (Maidie Norman),
then gets into bed and tearfully gives in to feelings of loneliness.
One Sunday morning, as the bored Jenny mopes around her apartment, she tries unsuccessfully to perform simple tasks with her
eyes closed, and is struck by the grace and dignity with which Tye lives. In a rush of feeling, she goes to visit her mother,
but Mrs. Stewart (Marjorie Rambeau) just nags her for money. Jenny decides to throw a party that night, and instructs her
agent, Monty Rolfe (Paul Guilfoyle), to round up guests and arrange for Tye to entertain. Tye is unavailable, however, which
puts Jenny in a sour mood, and she abruptly sends her guests home.
According to 1951 news items in Daily Variety and Hollywood Reporter, the I. A. R. Wylie story "Why Should I Cry?"
was originally to be filmed as one of the short sequences in M-G-M's Three Love Stories. A June 23, 1952 HR news item reported
that Lana Turner had been cast in the film, and a March 5, 1953 item in HR 's "Rambling Reporter" column announced
that Ann Sheridan would star. According to a June 1952 news item in HR, Fred Wilcox was originally set to direct the picture.
A HR news item and production charts add Lillian Randolph and Dave O'Brien to the cast, but they were not in the released
According to a December 16, 1953 HR news item, music publisher Edwin H. Morris & Co. sued Loew's Inc., M-G-M's parent
company, for allegedly using the song "Tenderly" in a manner that violated the licensing agreement. The outcome
of this suit has not been determined.
Click on images below to see a larger view.
Movie Posters/Lobby Cards etc...
Reviewer, Aric Dietrich, says...
Finally making its way onto DVD this month as part of the second volume of The Joan Crawford Collection, this film brought Crawford back to MGM bigger and more colorful than ever. Her first color picture (she appeared in a color sequence in "Ice Follies of 1939"), "Torch Song" features Crawford as a tempermental, aging musical theatre star, Jenny Stewart, who walks on everyone around her with the exception of her housekeeper and confidante, Anne (played by Maidie Norman who also played a similar role in Crawford's "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"). While not a critical or commercial success, the film resonates with Crawford's many fans the world over because of the rich colors, her over-the-top performance, and the sheer camp factor. That said, be on the lookout for a rousing rendition of "Two-Faced Woman" where the very white, redheaded Joan is decked out in turquoise and black face! An Oscar nomination went to Marjorie Rambeau in her supporing role as Jenny's no-nonsense mother. Joan cannot claim the musical numbers -- her voice was dubbed by India Adams. A must see for all musical, Crawford, and kitsch fans.
Reviewer, Robert Bertrand, says...
Review: MGM literally rolled out the red carpet for Joan Crawford and the making of this picture. After her ten-year absence
from the studio, she was given a massive welcome-back reception and a highly publicized ad campaign for the film; after all,
Torch Song was to be Joan's first, full-length Technicolor picture.The film, unintentionally, pokes fun at the roles for which
Joan became famous later in her career. Joan, who was 49 at the time of filming, plays huge Broadway star Jenny Stewart. Jenny
is cold, overbearing, arrogant and hard as nails; at the least, she's a nightmare to work and live with. (Jenny Stewart is
the Harriet Craig of the stage, so to speak.) After running her piano player off with ulcers and panic attacks, Jenny is informed
Tye Graham (played by Michael Wilding, Elizabeth Taylors second husband) will be the replacement. One catch: Tye Graham is
blind. Jenny is extremely opposed to the idea of a new piano player, much less one who is blind. After relentless attempts
to cut Tye down-to-size, Jenny realizes Tye is the only person who wont put up with her diva attitude. Throughout the film,
Tye slowly breaks down Jenny's tough exterior. Although the two have countless arguments, they end up as a couple in the end.This
film is an absolute riot, but it wasnt meant to be at all. It's very similar to Johnny Guitar in the way that its unintentionally
hilarious. "Torch Song" is the prime example of Joan Crawford camp. After watching the film, its obvious why so
many drag queens choose to mimic this particular role. Carol Burnett, among her many impersonations of old-Hollywood stars,
picked this Crawford picture to imitate in one of her skits and was absolutely uncanny!
Otis L. Guernsey, Jr. of the New York Herald Tribune had this to say,..."Joan Crawford has another of her star-sized roles...Here is Joan Crawford all over the screen, in command, in love and in color, a real movie star in what amounts to a carefully produced one-woman show. Miss Crawford's acting is sheer and colorful as a painted arrow, aimed straight at the sensibilities of her particular fans."
If you have seen this movie, please write a review below. Once your review is submitted, I will post the review below. Thank you for your review on this film.
Click on the decades below to browse movies.