Joan Crawford, Indies and Docs: March 2014 in Films

March was a pretty good month. I picked up from last month and managed to watch just slightly more than a film a day, so everything feels much more normal. I also saw a lot of great new and rep releases in theaters during the month – and coming up in just over a week is the TCM Film Festival! That’s going to be fabulous, as it always is. I continued with Female Filmmaker Friday, and I hope y’all have been enjoying reading that feature as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I’ve also watch A LOT of Joan Crawford movies. I didn’t make it through all of the ones I brought home from work to watch (still have six more!), but my total for Miss Crawford is now up to 51 movies! I’m gonna do what I can to see the rest by the end of the year. Wish me luck! Anyways, as always, the full list of what I watched is after the cut, as well as a few stand out favorites.


  1. Airborne
  2. Ladies They Talk About
  3. The Lucky One
  4. Lady of the Night
  5. The Circle (1925)
  6. Spring Fever (1927)
  7. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  8. Lost in America
  9. Only Lovers Left Alive
  10. The Lunchbox
  11. Mauvais sang
  12. West Point
  13. Corvette Summer
  14. Shirin In Love
  15. Miele (Honey)
  16. Across to Singapore
  17. If Looks Could Kill
  18. The Twelve Chairs
  19. Paid
  20. Possessed (1931)
  21. This Modern Age
  22. Larceny
  23. Laughing Sinners
  24. Ivy
  25. The Gambler Wore a Gun
  26. Today We Live
  27. Lust in the Dust
  28. Le Week-end
  29. Sadie McKee
  30. Teenage
  31. Chained
  32. An Unmarried Woman
  33. The Old Maid

1880s: 0
1880s: 0
1890s: 0
1900s: 0
1910s: 0
1920s: 5
1930s: 9
1940s: 2
1950s: 0
1960s: 1
1970s: 3
1980s: 3
1990s: 2
2000s: 0
2010s: 8

I’d really recommend pretty much all of the Joan Crawford films I watched last month. You can get a lot of them from Warner Archive or streaming on Warner Archive Instant. You will not be disappointed! I also saw a lot of great female-centric new release films. Though I’m not going to write about them extensively, if you get a chance to see The LunchboxMiele (Honey) or Le week-end, do!

Ladies They Talk About, 1933 (dir. Howard Bretherton, William Keighley)


So let’s first discuss that timeless miss Barbara Stanwyck. I can’t believe I hadn’t seen this film before. It’s everything you want from pre-code Hollywood and pre-code Stanwyck. She’s sensual and tough and she’s gonna get what she wants no matter the costs. It’s a great women in prison film and also has one of the most “what the?!” endings you’ll ever watch.

Only Lovers Left Alive, 2013 (dir. Jim Jarmusch)


I got to see this at a screening that was preceded by a Q&A with Tilda Swinton (my alien queen) herself and I still haven’t quite recovered from being in her presence. I love Jim Jarmusch and this film is every bit a Jarmuschian film, though perhaps one of his most accessible with a slightly more clear-cut story than usual. It’s filled to the brim with cheeky literary references and unbelievable chemistry from its two leads (Unf Tom Hiddleston). Tilda says it was inspired in part by The Diaries of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain, which I subsequently read. I recommend both.

Paid, 1930 (dir. Sam Wood)


While the bulk of this movie is set after Joan leaves prison, I just had to use this photo to represent it. Look at sassy Louise Beavers! Joan goes to jail for a theft she didn’t do, does her time – all the while learning how to milk the system – and after she leaves she puts together the perfect racket – blackmailing rich men in such a way that they can’t press charges. In the end, her goal is to ruin the man who sent her to prison by destroying his son’s life, but I won’t tell you if she succeeds or not. Just watch it!

Teenage, 2013 (dir. Matt Wolf)


This was such an unbelievably great documentary. It mixes archival footage with recreation (that look just like archival footage), several unique character-esque narrations and a killer score from Bradford Cox to weave together the tale of how “teenage” grew out of the end of child labor and the chaotic time between WWI and WWII. The film goes up through 1946 and then ends with a coda smashing together 60 years of teenage rebellion in a hymn to that passion of that age in a montage that will make you cry (and if you don’t cry you must be a hard, hard person!). Go see this if it’s playing near you or when it inevitably ends up on Netflix.

An Unmarried Woman, 1978 (dir. Paul Mazursky)


At least once a month for years one conversation or other that I had with my mother ended with her asking me if I’d seen this movie. Thanks to the Cinefamily, I can finally say “yes.” I once read that you find books when you are ready; that’s how I feel about films, and I am so glad I saw this film now instead of earlier in my life. This film so perfectly fits in with all the reading and thinking and expressing I’ve been doing lately. It’s so natural and raw and funny and poignant. Jill Clayburgh, Kelly Bishop, Michael Murphy and Alan Bates gives phenomenal performances and the film itself captures an era – when divorce was finally, really an option (look up the history of no-fault divorce; California was the first to have it in 1970 and it wasn’t available in all states til 1985!). Mostly, what I love about this film is the ending, which I won’t spoil, but was as perfect an ending as I’ve ever seen.

So that was March. April looks promising: more Joan Crawford, TCMFF, The Decline of Western Civilization (all three parts!) at LACMA hosted by The Academy. Awww yeahhhh! I’ll see ya at the movies!

About Marya E. Gates

Cinephile to the max.

Posted on April 1, 2014, in 2014 in Films and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Nice work! Going to have to check out Only Lovers Left Alive thanks for the find!

  2. Foreskin McGhee

    Decline 2 is hilarious.

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