When mentioning popular actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Joan Crawford’s name is always in the mix. Though it has been said she relished her movie star status, that does not negate the fact that she also had talent. She may not have been one who preferred the work over the celebrity like her rival Bette Davis, but no one can deny she was dedicated to her career.
Crawford most often played modern women in dramatic films. Occasionally, she would step outside of her normal milieu. But she did seem most at home in dramatic roles. However, she was capable of more as she proves in the comedy They All Kissed the Bride.
Margaret Drew rules her world with an iron fist. This includes her family trucking business as well as the lives of her mother and sister. She exhibits little softness or human emotion, barking demands like an automaton whose sole concern is efficiency and a healthy profit margin. She further erases any hints of femininity in her choice of name, going by her initials M.J.
The current thorn in M.J’s side is writer Michael Holmes, whose former exposes have seriously impacted other companies’ bottom lines. M.J. is determined to use all legal avenues at her disposal to stop the publication of his book about her father.
When M.J meets a charming stranger at her sister’s wedding, she begins to experience strange emotions for the first time. Though she tries to ignore her physical reactions to this man who keeps popping up, she can’t completely control them. Matters are made worse when she discovers the man who makes her weak-kneed is actually Mike Holmes!
For his part Mike is intrigued by the challenge M.J. presents. Deciding she needs to be humanized, he alternately sweet-talks, goads and even bribes her at their every meeting. Can these two opposites find common ground?
Crawford is an odd choice in a role originally slated for Carole Lombard. But when Lombard died, the part was re-worked to better suit Crawford who donated her salary to the Red Cross in Lombard’s name.
The opening scenes of They All Kissed the Bride seem to present a familiar Joan Crawford, stiff hair to match her stiff personality. A real ball-buster. Before long however, it segues into a surprisingly charming comedy about a woman learning to accept all aspects of her nature, without viewing them as weaknesses.
Though I admire Crawford, she has never been a personal favorite of mine. Perhaps, because I prefer romantic comedies to dramas as a rule. However, she exhibits not only a softer side of the character, but also of herself as an actress in this film. I was surprised by how well she handled the comedic portions of the story. She even managed to make M.J.’s perplexity over her literal weak knees convincing. As she transforms from M.J. to Maggie (Mike’s name for her), she becomes downright endearing and appealing.
Supposedly, Crawford insisted on Melvyn Douglas being cast as her romantic interest in their fourth and final film together. It proves to be a wise choice. Douglas had a deft touch when it came to light comedy. Once again, he perfectly fills the role of a man with a creative temperament who finds himself intrigued by his uptight leading lady.
Mike Holmes has the potential to come across as selfish or a bully. However, Douglas is able to portray him as a man who doesn’t just challenge M.J. He also believes in her potential to be better. While he may take advantage of her at times, it is never with ill intent, but always for her benefit, though Maggie can’t always see that. Thanks to Crawford and Douglas rapport, I believed that these two opposites actually could attract.
But lest you think that Joan Crawford and Melvyn Douglas are the only attractions of this film, let me mention that they have a talented supporting cast. Old stalwarts, Roland Young and Billie Burke have important roles as M.J.’s right-hand legal advisor and her mother. Burke plays her usual flighty part, but with a surprising character twist towards the end. Then there is Allen Jenkins as a Drew Trucking employee, close friend and informant to Mike Holmes. Jenkins could occasionally over act his parts, but he is perfectly cast here. All the while he is giving Mike insider information on the company’s practices, he also unknowingly provides M.J. with first hand knowledge of her employee’s experiences with her rigid company rules.
Though They All Kissed the Bride will never be considered one of Joan Crawford’s best films, I would definitely consider it an under rated one. Giving her an opportunity to play both drama and comedy it proves that she is more versatile than she often gets credit for being.
19 Replies to “Joan Crawford Blogathon – They All Kissed the Bride (1942)”
Thank you so much for your wonderful review! 😀
I only saw this film for the first time last year but had heard so much about it, so my expectations were somewhat high. Like you, I had mixed feelings about the end result especially in the beginning with Joan’s rigidness. It was lovely to see her loosen up over the course of the film and almost take delight in doing comedy, which was a vast change from her usual genres of film. Seeing Joan and Melvyn Douglas together always makes me happy because I thought they played quite well against each other. He had a very natural way with comedy that was always understated but never failed to amuse.
Joan volunteered to do the role for her close friend and long-time lover Clark Gable who was devastated at the loss of his wife. Her gesture undoubtedly save the studio’s time and money but also demonstrated her loyalty and generosity. 🙂
Many thanks again for contributing to our blogathon! I hope that you enjoyed getting more familiar with Joan’s work!
Ahh, now Joan’s substitution in the film for Carole Lombard makes a bit more sense. What a lovely gesture on her part. Thanks so much for your kind feedback. I love discovering and sharing little underrated films like this. It’s always nice to talk about them with others who’ve seen them.
I’ve always giving this one a pass because the title did nothing for me. It sounds like the perfect Sunday afternoon treat with the softer, comedic side of Joanie.
The title is terrible. It really has nothing to do with the movie. It was actually a rather pleasant surprise and I’m happy to have discovered it. Hopefully, you get a chance to watch it.
Great post! One thing Joan had over Bette was that Joan could play comedy while Bette, try as she might, had zero flair for it. While not a great film, it was great of Joan to step in and donate her salary. She was a stand up gal.
Agreed. On all accounts.
Ha! You made me laugh with your observation re: Joan’s stiff hair and stiff personality.
I’ve never paid any attention to this film; never got enthused about it despite the fact it stars Joan AND Melvyn Douglas. Now that I’ve read your review, however, I’m anxious to see it soon. It sounds like a less-than-perfect film, but knowing that Joan donated her salary in Carole Lombard’s name made all the difference. Thanks for sharing that story.
Knowing about that donation does give a different perspective on Joan doesn’t it? I hope you get a chance to see the film. It is rather enjoyable seeing Joan’s personality melt into something a bit more vulnerable.
I’m not a big fan of Joan’s either- but her taking this role was just such a remarkable gesture of respect to Clark and Carole- and for that I respect her. I have not seen this film yet- but its no my watch list- I wonder how much did have to be changed because Carole wasnt in it.
From what I understand, the part was re-written to better suit Joan. The good news is this film is available on Amazon.
now on my watch list- typos!!
I really liked this film. Joan and Melvyn Douglas have great chemistry and I really think Joan should have done more comedy. Great post!
Yes, this film gave me the same feeling. Joan surprised me with her comedic skills.
An interesting film which I have never seen, and I am particularly keen to see Joan Crawford in a comedy. Always liked Melvyn Douglas, which also piques my interest in the film. Thanks for a great review and sharing your insightful thoughts! Best regards, Paul
I really hope you get a chance to see it, especially if you appreciate Melvyn Douglas and Joan Crawford together. Thanks for stopping by!
Loved this review! Also, Billie Burke AHH! love her.
Thank you! Yes, I’m partial to Billie Burke as well.
Loved this! I so enjoyed how you discussed Joan’s versatility and how well she worked with Douglas. Thanks so much for participating in our Blogathon.