“I’m not running! Do you understand that?”
A carnival dancer (Joan Crawford) falls for the sheriff (Zachary Scott) of a small town ruled by a corrupt politician (Sydney Greenstreet), who plans to make Scott puppet-governor of the state, and will stop at nothing to prevent his relationship with Crawford from flourishing. Soon Lane (Crawford) becomes romantically involved with another politician (David Brian), but continues to find herself butting heads with Greenstreet.
- Cross-Class Romance
- David Brian Films
- Joan Crawford Films
- Michael Curtiz Films
- Political Corruption
- Small Town America
- Strong Females
- Sydney Greenstreet Films
- Zachary Scott Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary notes that despite its “pat” ending, this Joan Crawford flick “is well directed by Michael Curtiz, has a solid group of characters, and, probably more than any straight drama up until then (All the King’s Men was also released in 1949), paints a realistic portrait of political corruption in America.” He argues that “Crawford is much better than in Mildred Pierce, giving a deeply felt, multi-faceted characterization” as a woman who’s “smart, sincere, and stronger than any man in that she alone stands up to Greenstreet (playing one of his most memorable villains)”. While I enjoyed Crawford’s low-key, Oscar-winning performance as Mildred Pierce, I’ll agree that she’s just as effective — and even more enjoyably feisty — here, giving one of her best later-career performances (she’s 43, but — naturally – looks great as the central love interest). Meanwhile, Greenstreet is indeed “memorable”, playing a truly “larger than life” man so confident in his abilities to exert a corrupting influence that he barely blinks an eye when setting his next plan into action. Curtiz’s direction — assisted by Ted McCord’s fine cinematography — adds a noir-ish yet Gothic tinge to the proceedings, turning this melodrama into an appropriately cynical look at the corruption seemingly lurking in small towns everywhere.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Joan Crawford as Lane Bellamy (nominated as one of the Best Actresses of the Year in Peary’s Alternate Oscars)
- Sydney Greenstreet as Titus Semple
- Solid direction and cinematography by Michael Curtiz and DP Ted McCord
Yes, simply to see Crawford in one of her best later-life roles.