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 ... See full summary »
A dazed woman walks the streets of Los Angeles looking for a man named David. After collapsing in a diner, she's taken to the psychiatric ward of a nearby hospital. Flashbacks reveal her ... See full summary »
Commercial artist Daisy Kenyon is involved with married lawyer Dan O'Mara, and hopes someday to marry him, if he ever divorces his wife Lucille. She meets returning veteran Peter, a decent ... See full summary »
The life of Sadie McKee takes many twists and turns. She starts as the daughter of the cook for the well off Alderson family. Lawyer Michael Alderson likes Sadie but she runs off to New ... See full summary »
Rags-to-riches Hennessey meets newlyweds Jessie and Eddie from his old neighborhood. Eddie plots to have Jessie divorce him, marry Hennessey, divorce Hennessey, then bring Hennessey's money... See full summary »
Della Chappell (Joan Crawford) is a very wealthy and incredibly reclusive woman. When a big company wants the land Della lives on, the town sends out Barney Stafford (Paul Burke) to talk to... See full summary »
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
This film marked Joan Crawford's return to MGM after a ten year absence. She was previously under contract to MGM from 1925-1943. See more »
In an old newspaper review, Ty rhapsodizes about Jenny's performance of the song "Tenderly" which he saw her perform on the night before he was shipped off to WWII (and subsequently blinded). In reality, that tune was not written until 1946, a year after war was over. See more »
Possibly the worst picture Crawford ever made, it begs to be seen to be disbelieved.
Despite "winning" Charleston contests at the Cocoanut Grove in her twenties, even vintage early films prove Crawford was no dancer. Nor could she sing particularly well.
So, naturally, she's cast in "Torch Song" as a huge Broadway singing and dancing star. (Crawford was 49 at the time.)
In her opening "rehearsal" number with "Ellis" (actually, "Torch Song's" Director, Chuck Walters), one can practically hear her count, "One, two, three, four" as she studiously moves from one carefully choreographed pose to another. Even Shirley Temple, with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, did better than this in "The Little Colonel" (1935) in their still-startling and delightful tap dance sequence.
There's nothing "delightful" about any of Crawford's dancing-singing sequences in "Torch Song." But she's consistently "startling." Her songs ("Follow Me," "Two-Faced Woman") are mediocre at best: never to be heard again, or embraced by the music-buying public. Worse, they're actually sung by India Adams, whose voice doesn't remotely resemble Crawford's.
The show-stopper (and not in a good way) is "Two-Faced Woman." Crawford, in blackface, descends the staircase (still silently counting her simplistic dance steps and "posing" rather than dancing). Blackface? Never explained. Perhaps blackface was chosen for the "shocking" moment when she angrily rips off her wig and glares into the auditorium with her enormous eyes and red slash of a mouth -- topped with disheveled hair dyed a remarkable Technicolor "red" that even Lucille Ball wouldn't have dared attempt.
No one, of course, not even a would-be lounge singer like India Adams (whatever happened to . . . oh, never mind), can destroy a chestnut like "Tenderly," whose haunting music and lyric support even the talentless.
Marjorie Rambeau inexplicably won an Academy Award nomination for her three brief scenes as Crawford's mother. (She and Crawford were longstanding friends.) Adolph Deutsch (Composer) presumably arranged and played the impressive "mad" piano arrangement of "Tenderly" for blind pianist Ty Graham (Micheal Wilding) in the final scene. It's the single most emotionally honest moment in the entire film, musically capturing Ty's love and anguish and frustration with Crawford's "gypsy madonna." Until it's completely undercut by one of the most rapid character reversals (and bad dialogue) ever conceived for a major film.
"I finally did it," asserts Crawford's character, attempting to convince Ty (and the audience) that she's been trying to break through Ty's defensive shell all along (she hasn't: she's just been spouting hackneyed bitchy dialogue, lip-synching to hackneyed "original" songs and silently counting out her game but amateurish dance steps -- all in Helen Rose's gloriously improbable Technicolor costumes).
"Torch Song's" final line, meant to show Crawford's "tender," warmly humorous side, references Ty's seeing eye dog, Duchess. Say what? THIS is "Torch Song's" payoff?
Is "Torch Song" watchable? Yes. Like a train wreck.
Is it "so bad it's good?" No. It's just bad.
The "Reefer Madness" of musicals.
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