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Christina Crawford, Joan Crawford's adopted daughter, recounted in her autobiography Mommie Dearest that she had to leave the theater midway through a showing of this film because it was too true-to-life in her mother's portrayal of the main character. See more »
"The sun is shinin', I didn't expect the sun to be shinin'"
So sayeth Barry Sullivan in "Queen Bee" referring to Joan Crawford, the ruler of a southern household in this 1955 drama, which also stars John Ireland, Barry Sullivan, Betsy Palmer and Fay Wray. Cousin Jennifer Stewart (Lucy Marlow) arrives for a visit and immediately senses there are a few problems in the home - at first, she feels these problems are unfairly blamed on Eva (Crawford). She soon learns what the audience has known from Eva's first appearance.
The lovely and somewhat shy Carol Lee Phillips (Palmer), sister of Eva's husband (Sullivan), is about to marry one of Eva's hand-me-downs, Judson Prentiss (Ireland) but doesn't realize that Eva hasn't quite decided to let him go. Complicating things, cousin Jennifer finds herself attracted to Eva's husband. In real life, Ireland and Crawford were having an affair, and Palmer screamed "WHAT??" into the telephone when she was invited to Crawford's wedding to Alfred Steele. At the reception, she took Crawford aside and asked what was going on. "Oh, well," Crawford said, "We were in our cups and Alfred asked me to marry him, and I said yes."
This is one of those southern dramas we saw a lot of in the '50s and early '60s - "The Long Hot Summer," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," and "Desire in the Dust," to name a few. "Queen Bee" is a little over the top. It's a tour de force for Crawford, who has some very biting lines which she delivers in her inimitable style, and her wardrobe is sensational, especially the last gown. She plays the kind of bitch we always imagine she was in real life, the woman depicted in "Mommie Dearest." She couldn't have been - too many people, from Ann Blyth to Betsy Palmer, truly liked her. A little too much of a disciplinarian at home and with a voracious sexual appetite, she certainly brought those edges to many performances. Crawford also was one of the great screen presences with a face made for film.
Highly enjoyable film particularly for Crawford fans, though everyone in it is very good.
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