Torch Song Reviews
In middle age, Crawford's face grew more stark, with eyebrows that seemed to have a life of their own. In black and white photography with moody lighting, this can come across statuesque and haunting. In Technicolor with overly bright lighting (one of the numerous disasters in "Torch Song" is the lighting), it looks garish and even frightening. It's this fierce Crawford look that launched a million drag performances and will launch a million more. It's with "Torch Song" that Crawford becomes campy. And she doesn't appear to know it.
Her character, a lonely, middle-aged, tough-as-nails Broadway star, seems to be a parody of Crawford, but the only one who is not in on the joke is Crawford herself.
Through the whole first two-thirds of the film, Crawford's portrayal of this man-eater made of granite is so over the top that it produces no emotional effect. It just seems cold and phony. And uninteresting. Even a little depressing.
But in the final scenes something remarkable happens. The character starts to admit her weaknesses and her love for her new pianist, who -- get this -- is blind. Remarkably, this bizarre movie finds its footing at the tail end, and these two characters reveal to each other how much they've been hiding from the world. He turns out to be as hidden behind a shell as she is, afraid to be rejected by women because he's blind.
But this touching finale can't quite save this weird movie from itself. I keep remembering the unbelievable number with Crawford performing in blackface. Yes, blackface.
Who knew Joan Craford could sing & Dance? And Well, actually.Check out the Runners(not dancers) thighs on her! Abundance of talent, no wonder she harbored such a high opinion of herself.Her Diva personality is put to great use here, as she doesn't just play superbly to Character, it IS her character.The Diva of Drama, may be misunderstood & lonely in both real life & in this role, & it shows on her face as stern & constipated.While a pretty woman, she looks mean from the inside out, esp. here, more than any other role I've seen her in.Something tells me its not just makeup or acting.I just want to Hug her till she melts the Ice.
She meets her match in a Blind Pianist who is neither afraid of her, nor affected by her.Meeting someone who can put he in her place is just what the Doctor ordered & kinder than a Personality Enema.Gotta Love an Ice melting movie like this one
As for the rest of the movie, it's surprisingly unventful and anticlimactic fare. The technicolor and Joan's palpable swagger made me yearn for Johnny Guitar, which is sadly absent from Netflix. Also, I'm not sure what the moral of the story is supposed to be--even blind guys are superficial? even Broadway stars get the blues? Who's to say? Anyway, this film did not deliver its promised punch of scenery chewing and garish colors. I expected high camp and received only medium camp.
Then comes the blind pianist, and we know he's set his eyes - so to speak - on her.
The musical aspect is kind of a joke, and it goes to hilariously offensive levels with a whole number for Two-Faced Woman with Crawford and the whole cast in blackface, so out of place that it makes for memorable scenes. However, there's also a sad introspective view in Stewart as a Crawford mirror. If you've read about her whole life, and are a fan - you can't miss it.
I'll take my Crawford in Black & White, thank you.