Tuesday, March 11, 2008

More Joan Crawford

This time, we get an older Crawford in The Caretakers, airing at 2:30 AM ET on March 12 on TCM. (Note that this means 11:30 PM on March 11 for those out on the west coast.) In this 1963 movie, Crawford plays the head nurse at a mental institution. Robert Stack plays the head doctor, and he's a "progressive" who wants to try new ways of treating the patients. Unfortunately, this raises havoc for Crawford's nursing staff, and so she fights him at every turn.

That's not the only thing about this movie that's unfortunate. Although the above sounds like an interesting enough idea for drama, it's also the sort of situation that's easily made exploitative, with the patients suffering by being treated as caricatures. And that's what happens in this movie.

Still, it's fun to watch Stack and Crawford, as well as the supporting cast. An aging Herbert Marshall appears as one of the doctors, and Polly Bergen (Gregory Peck's wife in the original Cape Fear) probably gets the highlight as a woman who suffers a nervous breakdown in a movie theater in this film's opening sequence.

Like Ice Follies of 1939, this one is liable to be released on DVD only as part of a completist edition of the movies of Joan Crawford. God knows she made enough B-grade stuff in the 1960s after What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

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