Friday, May 01, 2015

So you're curious about Joan Crawford's General Electric Theater work...

Well, don't be. All three are risible attempts to generate Twilight Zone-style suspense and godawful twist endings by having characters act in ways antithetical to their nature. In "The Road to Edinburgh" (1954), Joan gives a ride to a drifter who fixed her flat tire. He confesses to her that he has just been released from prison after 17 years for murder. But he behaves like a complete psycho, becoming belligerent and obsessing on her appearance. Naturally, Joan tries everything to get away, especially when she learns that the police are on the lookout for an escaped prisoner. She does 80 to attract the police but when she's pulled over, they inform her that the man in her car couldn't be the escaped prisoner since he's just been caught! The poor innocent guy just needed a ride. He even gives her the money to pay for her speeding ticket leaving a tearful Joan to admit in voiceover, "I've never been so ashamed in my life." So he acted like a psycho...why?
In "Strange Witness" (1958), Joan and her wiry boyfriend Tom Tryon (future horror novelist and partner of gay porn icon Casey Donovan) bump off her husband (John McIntire). But the husband's blind friend stops by for a visit before the couple has time to hide the body. They manage to maneuver him around the corpse before eventually shooing him away. But later, he calls her from a police station to inform her that, oh hai, he had an operation and can see! So he pretended that he's still blind...why?
In "And One Was Loyal" (1959), Joan is an abused wife who cannot speak. A poisonous snake is planted in her husband's bed. Thinking Joan is trying to kill him, he charges at her, falls off a balcony, and dies at which point Joan can suddenly speak again. But who planted the snake? Was it Joan? Or was it the art-loving visitor who fancies her? Or how about the Malaysian house boy? Much the best of the three but the least dramatic, one hopes Newton Minow had this in mind when he deemed television a vast wasteland in 1961

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