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Female on the Beach (1955)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 27 August 1955 (UK)
Moving into a beach house involves Lynn Markham in mystery, danger, and romance with a beach boy of dubious motives.

Director:

Joseph Pevney

Writers:

Robert Hill (play), Robert Hill (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Joan Crawford ... Lynn Markham
Jeff Chandler ... Drummond Hall
Jan Sterling ... Amy Rawlinson
Cecil Kellaway ... Osbert Sorenson
Judith Evelyn ... Eloise Crandall
Charles Drake ... Police Lieutenant Galley
Natalie Schafer ... Queenie Sorenson
Stuart Randall ... Frankovitch
Marjorie Bennett ... Mrs. Murchison
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Storyline

Lynn Markham moves into her late husband's beach house...the morning after former tenant Eloise Crandall fell (or was pushed) from the cliff. To her annoyance, Lynn finds both her real estate agent and Drummond Hall, her muscular beachcomber neighbor, making themselves quite at home. Lynn soon has no doubts of what her scheming neighbors are up to, but she finds Drummond's physical charms hard to resist. And she still doesn't know what really happened to Eloise. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

She was TOO HUNGRY FOR LOVE... to care where she found it! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 August 1955 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

A Casa da Praia See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Shortly before the film was made, Joan Crawford was dating the president of Universal Pictures, who offered her the role. She also was given her choice of leading man, and she selected Jeff Chandler. See more »

Goofs

The type of doorbell that is featured prominently in Crawford's beach house, with four large chime tubes, in reality makes a very different sound than the doorbell sound effect that is heard on the soundtrack whenever the bell is rung. See more »

Quotes

Drummond Hall: [Pointing out on picture on his boat] This is Mrs. Crandall - Eloise - taken when she still had ideas of marrying me.
Lynn Markham: Would you have married her?
Drummond Hall: She had money... could have given me what I wanted.
Lynn Markham: What do you want?
Drummond Hall: Nothing to worry about, nothing to struggle for, nothing to bother about.
Lynn Markham: That kind of nothing costs money.
Drummond Hall: So they tell me.
Lynn Markham: You wanted to get it the easy way.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits are written om wet sand and succeeding waves wash them away. See more »

Connections

Featured in Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Movie Star (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Crawford plays Crawford in self-referential cautionary tale
7 August 2002 | by bmacvSee all my reviews

Few case studies of Hollywood stardom rival Joan Crawford's in their curiosity. A certified star from the time of last silent movies and the first talkies, she fell from favor more than once only to be restored in ever newer incarnations, largely through the boundless reservoirs of her will.

And if there is an era that defines the Crawford that we remember most vividly, it's the decade-plus, from her Oscar-winning turn as Mildred Pierce in 1945 through her last `really top' movie, The Story of Esther Costello in 1957. In her valiant assault, as she moved into middle age, against time's winged chariot, she had vehicles built around her that helped define the canons of camp but retain a fascination that transcends camp. This dozen or so includes: Humoresque, Flamingo Road, her second Possessed, The Damned Don't Cry, Harriet Craig, This Woman Is Dangerous, Sudden Fear, Torch Song, Queen Bee and Autumn Leaves. Though we may howl at some of them (or at parts of them, for they range from rather good to quite dreadful), we're always aware – at times discomfitingly so – of the human drama that underlies and links them all: the Joan Crawford story.

In Female on the Beach, she plays a recent widow taking up residence in the coastal California home her wealthy husband owned. Her arrival proves ill-starred, for a broken railing on its deck marks the spot where its previous tenant – another woman battling age and isolation – plunged to her death. Did she jump or fall – or was she pushed? It unfolds that she had fallen prey to a youngish beach bum (Jeff Chandler) operated by a pair of older con-artists (Cecil Kellaway and Natalie Schafer); Crawford is targeted as their next mark.

Obsessively guarding her privacy, however, she proves to be a tough nut to crack. Her too familiar realtor (Jan Sterling) is swiftly shown the door when she makes the mistake of taking Crawford for granted. And Chandler, turning up unbidden in Crawford's kitchen one morning, encounters that same rough hide; asked how she likes her coffee, she icily replies `Alone.'

But tanned muscles and prematurely grey temples do not count for nothing in affluent oceanside communities, so Chandler slowly wins over the armored Crawford. But the course of true love never did run smooth, as the Bard of Avon warns us. Crawford just happens to find the dead woman's indiscreet diary (it's hidden away behind a loose brick in the fireplace!), a sad yarn of being cheated in card games and bilked for loans by the larcenous old couple while being strung along by Chandler.

No fool she, Crawford hands the gigolo his walking papers. But then she sinks into a sump of liquor and self-loathing, staggering around waiting the phone to ring like a torch-carrier out of a Dorothy Parker story. Finally, of course, Chandler does call and, better yet, wants to marry her! But fate has a few final cards to deal, including an uninstalled fuel pump Crawford had bought for Chandler's boat....

That staple of genre cinema, the woman-in-jeopardy thriller, generally features dithery, hysterical young things as straw victims. Crawford in jeopardy, by contrast, turns all the conventions upside down. The coquettish bulldozer she has constructed of herself at this menopausal juncture in her life, with her face as fiercely painted as a Kabuki mask, seems designed to repel – to crush – any threats. (Of course, like most such postures of domination and intimidation, It's a construct of fear – her fears of falling short as a serious actress, as a mother, as a woman; fears of aging and no longer being able to lure her directors and costars between the sheets; fears of not mastering her own unachievable goals.) The facade of control and self-sufficiency proves all the more arresting when it comes under siege from the cumbersome twists and turns of these situations held over from nineteenth-century melodrama.

Hence, Female on the Beach and its ilk. An indomitable woman of a certain age flies solo into the perils of mid-life, only to triumph against all odds. That was the life Crawford was living at mid-century, the life reflected in these films, by turns appalling and transfixing. Not since the Brothers Grimm has such a string of cautionary tales been issued.


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