“Oh, you poor, miserable, unhappy things — civilization’s a failure! It’s a poor, poor, sick, unhappy world!”
A wealthy socialite named Susan (Joan Crawford) “finds God” while vacationing in Europe, and uses her newfound religious convictions as an excuse to meddle in her friends’ affairs; meanwhile, her tippling husband (Fredric March) and awkward teenage daughter (Rita Quigley) hope that Susan will decide to settle down into family life.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Fredric March Films
- George Cukor Films
- Joan Crawford Films
- Marital Problems
- Play Adaptation
- Religious Faith
Anita Loos’ adaptation of Rachel Crothers’ stage play (originally starring Gertrude Lawrence as Susan) gave Joan Crawford one of her most unusual vehicles, playing a self-absorbed woman who one IMDb poster has accurately labeled “Crystal Allen on speed”. Susan’s new religion — based on Frank Buchman’s Oxford Group, which inspired the 12-step movement — requires converts to freely confess their “sins”, a fact which Susan’s eternally hopeful husband (a rather bland Fredric March) uses to force her into acknowledging her own shortcomings as a wife and mother. Crawford is perfectly cast as Susan — all grandiose arm spans and mile-a-minute monologues — and, naturally, completely overshadows her co-stars; while her character isn’t particularly likable (and it’s difficult to see why March is still so in love with her), her sheer level of energy and enthusiasm is impressive. The second hour isn’t nearly as engaging as the first, and the stagy narrative goes on for too long altogether; but Susan and God remains an intriguing entry in Crawford’s oeuvre, and is worth a look for her performance alone.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
No, though it’s recommended simply for Crawford’s performance.