|Available at Amazon.com|
Joan Crawford is the eponymous Daisy Kenyon in this 1947 film by Otto Preminger. Daisy is a successful career woman, having a fling with a married lawyer (Dana Andrews) and being courted by a widower veteran (Henry Fonda).
Given that synopsis, one might assume that Daisy Kenyon is one of that period’s melodramatic “woman pictures”. It probably would have been if not for a couple of factors. The first is that Joan Crawford, in her early forties, was too old for her part. The second is that the film was made by the great Otto Preminger (Anatomy of a Murder), known for a cool, understated style. Both of these conditions could be remedied by sooting the movie in the shadowy style of film noir.
Film noir is the dark chocolate coating to the creamy nougat which is the film’s chick flick center.
Preminger manages to tone down the over-acting tendencies of Crawford, and bring out a great performance by the under-appreciated Dana Andrews. Henry Fonda does a good job playing the role of the damaged goods soldier, and “Mrs. Citizen Kane” Ruth Warrick is fantastic as an unstable cucquean. Fans of All my Children will undoubtedly know Warrick as Phoebe Tyler Wallingford, but may have trouble recognizing her in her early 30s.
One more bit of random trivia, you say?
Okay, director Otto Preminger played Mr. Freeze in the old Adam West Batman television series.
All right, let’s get back on topic. One of the good things about Daisy Kenyon, and most of Preminger’s work, is it’s objectivity. The film doesn’t rush its viewer’s to judgment. Andrews’s cheating husband is also fighting for oppressed Japanese Americans. There appears to be something dark and brooding behind the kind and gentle surface of Fonda’s veteran. Preminger doesn’t hold the viewer by the hand and say that Crawford should be with either of these men.
Daisy Kenyon is also a film that doesn’t shy away from topics of controversy in late ’40s America. The movie is peppered with the topics of adultery, child abuse, post-traumatic stress syndrome, divorce and civil rights.
All right, one more bit of trivia?
Crawford insisted that the film’s sets be kept at 50 degrees because of her hot flashes. Because of this, she bought her co-stars long underwear.
Movie looks and sounds better than I expected. Go movie!
Film Noir Historian Foster Hirsch delivers a fair analysis of the picture in his lectury but entertaining commentary track. He also appears on the films 2 featurettes: one a “making of”, the other a mini documentary on Otto Preminger.
The disc provides us still galleries, the original theatrical trailer, and one of those “Interactive Pressbooks” that Fox like to put on their film noir releases.
Daisy Kenyon is a perfectly acceptable movie. It is well made, well shot, and features strong performances. It isn’t essential viewing, nor is it the strongest work of Preminger.
But if you’ve ever wanted to see a chick-flick/noir hybrid, this is probably your best bet.
Twentieth Century Fox presents Daisy Kenyon. Directed by Otto Preminger. Starring Joan Crawford, Dana Andrews, and Henry Fonda. Written by David Hertz (based on the novel by Elizabeth Janeway). Running time: 99 minutes. Not rated. Released on DVD: March 11, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.