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Jenny Stewart is a tough Broadway musical star who doesn't take criticism from anyone. Yet there is one individual, Tye Graham, a blind pianist who may be able to break through her tough exterior. Written by
After a ten year absence in which Joan Crawford proved she was not by any means through as an actress when she won an Oscar for Mildred Pierce, she came back to MGM for what became her second musical role in Torch Song. She plays a Broadway star, a temperamental one at that which I think was modeled on Ethel Merman who's tired of everyone including her family of using her.
It takes a blind musician played by Michael Wilding to set her straight about herself. But Wilding's got his reasons, he remembers her as a promising young singer whom he saw before he went off to war and lost his vision.
Crawford also probably drew on her own experiences as a film star with the number of hangers-on folks like her inevitably develop. That would also include her husbands, thespians though they all were as well. And she had blood relatives as well who lived off her celebrity.
Joan's vocals were dubbed by India Adams and having heard Joan actually sing, she sounds nothing like Ms. Adams. In the beginning she dances with Charles Walters and I wish Torch Song had included more of that. A lot of people forget that it was as a dancer that Joan Crawford got her start at MGM way back in silent films.
One of the songs interpolated in the score was Tenderly, one of the great romantic ballads of the Fifties. Right about this time Rosemary Clooney was enjoying a big megahit from her recording for Columbia Records. No doubt that helped the box office of Torch Song.
Marjorie Rambeau got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress as Joan's mother. She lost to Donna Reed for From Here To Eternity. Harry Morgan as the director of the revue Joan is rehearsing for also scores well in this film.
One of her numbers as Joan in a black wig looking very much like Lena Horne. I don't think that anything disrespectful was meant in this, in fact I think it was an homage to Lena Horne. MGM had signed Lena Horne a decade earlier and then didn't quite know what to do with her. Maybe they were making some amends.
Torch Song is not one of Joan Crawford's better films, but her legion of fans will approve and she's good in the part. I just wish she'd danced some more.
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