IMDb > Torch Song (1953)
Torch Song
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Torch Song (1953) More at IMDbPro »


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5.3/10   622 votes »
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Release Date:
1 October 1953 (USA) See more »
Tough Baby - a wonderful love story with the star of "Sudden Fear" and for the FIRST TIME you'll see her in TECHNICOLOR!
Jenny Stewart is a tough Broadway musical star who doesn't take criticism from anyone. Yet there is one individual... See more » | Full synopsis »
Nominated for Oscar. Another 1 win See more »
User Reviews:
The "Reefer Madness" of Musicals See more (34 total) »


  (in credits order)

Joan Crawford ... Jenny Stewart

Michael Wilding ... Tye Graham

Gig Young ... Cliff Willard
Marjorie Rambeau ... Mrs. Stewart

Harry Morgan ... Joe Denner (as Henry Morgan)
Dorothy Patrick ... Martha
James Todd ... Philip Norton
Eugene Loring ... Gene, the Dance Director
Paul Guilfoyle ... Monty Rolfe
Benny Rubin ... Charles Maylor
Peter Chong ... Peter

Maidie Norman ... Anne
Nancy Gates ... Celia Stewart
Chris Warfield ... Chuck Peters
Rudy Render ... Singer at Party
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Mary Benoit ... Woman in Audience (uncredited)
Ralph Brooks ... Party Guest (uncredited)
Steve Carruthers ... Man in Audience (uncredited)
Adolph Deutsch ... Conductor (uncredited)
Estelle Etterre ... Woman in Audience (uncredited)
Bess Flowers ... Woman at Rehearsal (uncredited)
Mimi Gibson ... Susie (uncredited)
Sam Harris ... Restaurant Patron (uncredited)
Peggy King ... Cora (uncredited)
Mitchell Lewis ... Bill the Doorman (uncredited)
Joan Maloney ... Dancer (uncredited)
Frank Mazzola ... Merle (uncredited)
Harold Miller ... Party Guest / Man at Rehearsal (uncredited)
Paul Power ... Man in Audience (uncredited)
John Rosser ... Chauffeur (uncredited)
Norma Jean Salina ... Margaret (uncredited)
Reginald Simpson ... Cab Driver (uncredited)
Donna Jean Stewart ... Elsie (uncredited)
Gary Stewart ... Eddie (uncredited)
Charles Walters ... Ralph Ellis (uncredited)
Dick Winslow ... Party Guest (uncredited)
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Directed by
Charles Walters 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
John Michael Hayes  writer
Jan Lustig  writer
I.A.R. Wylie  story

Produced by
Henry Berman .... producer
Sidney Franklin .... producer (as Sidney Franklin Jr.)
Charles Schnee .... producer
Original Music by
Adolph Deutsch 
Cinematography by
Robert H. Planck 
Film Editing by
Albert Akst 
Art Direction by
E. Preston Ames 
Cedric Gibbons 
Set Decoration by
Jack D. Moore 
Edwin B. Willis 
Costume Design by
Helen Rose 
Makeup Department
Sydney Guilaroff .... hair stylist
William Tuttle .... makeup artist
Production Management
Jay Marchant .... unit manager (uncredited)
Sound Department
Douglas Shearer .... recording supervisor
Special Effects by
Warren Newcombe .... special effects
Music Department
Walter Gross .... musician: piano
Alexander Courage .... composer: additional music (uncredited)
Alexander Courage .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Other crew
Charles Walters .... choreographer

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
90 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.75 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Did You Know?

MGM's ad campaign for the film erroneously boasted that this was moviegoers' first chance to see Joan Crawford in Technicolor. However, Crawford had appeared in a Technicolor sequence in MGM's The Ice Follies of 1939 (1939), released some 14 years earlier.See more »
Anachronisms: 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 »
[first lines]
Jenny Stewart:Hold the record.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Blue MoonSee more »


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22 out of 32 people found the following review useful.
The "Reefer Madness" of Musicals, 22 August 2005
Author: Holdjerhorses from United States

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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