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Fierce: The Untameable Joan Crawford

August-October 2018

A two-month season revelling in the formidable and versatile Hollywood star.

Introduction by season programmer Anna Bogutskaya



“I never go outside unless I look like Joan Crawford the movie star. If you want to see the girl next door, go next door”
Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford is remembered as one of the great beauties of the silver screen, and as a Hollywood socialite whose complicated personal life often distracted from her talent as an actor. She had a nose for what the public wanted, and adapted her physical appearance, acting style and persona to ensure continuing success. From her early years as a flapper during the silent era to her middle-age melodramas and late-career genre resurgence, she was a cinematic chameleon who always dominated the screen with her formidable presence. In the first part of our two-month retrospective, we look at Crawford as a STAR – with all caps.


“I love playing bitches. There’s a lot of bitch in every woman – a lot in every man”
Joan Crawford

Obsessive stalkers, robbers, cheaters, bullies, divas, murderesses, manipulative socialites; Joan Crawford has played them all. Throughout her career she thrived on roles of complicated and dislikeable women, pushing the envelope as her Hollywood clout grew – and then developing roles for herself when the offers started to dry up. In the latter part of her five-decade career she continued to reinvent herself, and developed partnerships with genre-friendly directors like Robert Aldrich and William Castle, becoming a late-career scream queen with Sudden Fear, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Strait-Jacket. In this final month of our retrospective, we pay tribute to some of Crawford’s boldest and baddest characters.


See our screenings of The Women and Mildred Pierce.

See Big Screen Classics, our Woman with a Movie Camera strand and a collections focus in the BFI Reuben Library.


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