Fade Out – Joan Crawford


Episode 5 - Joan Crawford's TROG with Special Guest Erin Entrada Kelly.

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13 responses to “Fade Out – Joan Crawford

  1. The tragic fate of far too many Hollywood stars. Their final film is basically trash. Don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE fan of trash cinema. (I’m currently watching the films of Rene Perez with I can’t believe he’s NOT Charles Bronson actor Robert Kovacs)
    I just believe some actors deserve better in their twilight years.
    This is what makes Fade Out both fascinating and engaging. Some stars manage to go out on top, some are dragged through the mud. Some stars pass away before they even have a chance to dip their toes into the mighty Schlock Ness. I’ve often wondered what would have become of James Dean had he not died so young. Would he have become a Hollywood legend like Marlon Brando or lived to become a shadow of his former self notorious for being difficult cast only because of his name like… well… Marlon Brando.

    1. Interesting that you bring up Brando, because I just learned he was originally cast as a priest in the Exorcist spoof segment in Scary Movie 2. Apparently his health was so bad he was only on set for one day, and had to bow out. He was paid, and James Wood took his part. But Brando’s last, or maybe next to last on screen film appearance would have been in a Wayans Bros. spoof film. Somewhat Trog-like, I think.


      1. Interesting. I personally feel that being in one of the Scary Movie sequels is a far worse fate than Trog. It also brings up the Rob Kelly’s point with Orson Welles. What do you really consider to be a person’s final film? Is it a starring or a supporting role, or do you count small roles or cameos?

        1. I say any role, big or small, is the final one. Brando purposely did a lot of crap in his later years, ending it in SCARY MOVIE just seems like him taking the joke too far.

          1. Well, thankfully for his legacy, he wasn’t able to appear in any footage used on screen. But unfortunately it was due to his health being so horrible that he wasn’t able to complete the work.

  2. For some reason, I have seen Trog, Berserk and Strait Jacket. I think mostly because Svengoolie has shown at least a few of them. It’s interesting that Erin emphasized Crawford’s vanity and her reliance on her sex appeal. Both Strait Jacket and Berserk seem to really want the viewers to accept Crawford is much younger, and younger looking that what we see on screen. She even tries to assume the identity of her daughter in Strait Jacket, which is a much bigger stretch than the movie lets on. Oddly enough, Crawford did the same thing in real life a few years later, filling in for her real life daughter when she was ill and unavailable for several days on her soap opera, The Secret Storm. All this despite the fact Crawford was 63 and her daughter was 28!

    Maybe that photo of her and Rosalind Russell really was a revelation to her, that her youthful beauty had faded.

    I often hear Michael Gough being accused of “wooden acting”, but apparently those critics haven’t seen Trog! I’m surprised he didn’t still have splinters from the scenery in his teeth in Batman ’89.


    1. You and Rob need to do a special episode on the stars of the Universal Monster films! Karloff managed to do OK. Targets is a solid film, but just about everyone else didn’t fare very well. Even if you don’t consider Plane 9 Lugosi’s final film, it doesn’t get any better for him.

    2. I think when Michael Gough (pronounced ‘Goff’) is in more wooden mode, he’s likely tailoring his performances to the material and his co-stars. There’s a nice interview with him uploaded to YouTube from BBC show Pebble Mill at One, in which he talks briefly about his horror films – its worth a quick Google.

  3. Thanks for another great listen Rob, and it was good to hear more from Erin, I enjoyed hearing your thoughts on Trog. I’ve not seen it since I was a little boy, and remember I enjoyed it. I daren’t watch it again now.

    As career-ending films go, it’s a sad one, but happily little known. It’s the great Joan Crawford movies we recall, such as Mildred Pierce, Grand Hotel, The Women, The Damned Don’t Cry, Johnny Guitar…

    Maybe Erin could come back next year for a bookend Bette Davis show? I’ve never seen Wicked Stepmother, but it sounds marvellous!

  4. I have never seen Trog. Now based on the discussion in this episode, I don’t feel inclined to do so. Joan Crawford as an actress always ran hot or cold for me. When she was good, she was REALLY good. But, she sank to some pretty low depths in her performances, even when her career was going strong.

    Carrie Fisher said in her one-woman show, Wishful Drinking, that celebrity is just obscurity biding its time. And, it appears that is what Crawford struggled with and couldn’t find a way to accept. Maybe it she hadn’t been so obsessed with being a STAR, she could have evolved into a fine character actress, giving small, respectable performances in films of better quality. Nothing undercuts success like ego and an unwillingness to accept reality.

  5. You know, I have never seen a Joan Crawford movie and all of my knowledge/experience with her comes from Mommie Dearest and the Ryan Murphy miniseries Feud: Bette and Joan. I’m going to have to remedy this. Not through Troy, though.

    This whole series has been great, and I can’t wait for more. Every episode, I keep thinking of more names I’d like to hear you talk about and of course wonder a few things. Like, for instance …

    Are you sticking to directors and actors or would well-known screenwriters, cinematographers, or composers apply?

    Also, if a director has a final credit as a producer or writer, what film counts? I’ve, of course, got John Hughes on my mind here …

    I suppose I shouldn’t overthink this so much, but it’s a testament to how fun the show is.

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