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HARRIET CRAIG (director: Vincent Sherman; screenwriters: Anne Froelich/James Gunn/based on the play Craig’s Wife by George Kelly; cinematographer: Joseph Walker; editor: Viola Lawrence; music: George Duning; cast: Joan Crawford (Harriet Craig), Wendell Corey (Walter Craig), Lucile Watson (Celia Fenwick), Allyn Joslyn (Billy Birkmire), William Bishop (Wes Miller), K.T. Stevens (Clare Raymond), Viola Roache (Mrs. Harold), Raymond Greenleaf (Henry Fenwick), Ellen Corby (Lottie), Fiona O’Shiel (Mrs. Frazier), Pat Mitchell (Danny Frazier); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William Dozier; Columbia; 1950)
“There’s nothing much about this man-hater melodrama that held my interest.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The third film version of George Kelly’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1926 play Craig’s Wife is not a charm. The irritating screenplay is turned in by Anne Froelick and James Gunn. Vincent Sherman (“The Damned Don’t Cry”/”Goodbye, My Fancy”) keeps it dull, annoying and starchy. It was as unbearable to watch as it must have been for the characters to deal with the witch-like character played by Joan Crawford.

The 45-year-old Joan Crawford plays Harriet Craig, a monster, manipulative, control-freak perfectionist housewife with deep psychological problems who values her house above all else. Harriet Craig takes into her home her meek and adoring niece Clare Raymond (K.T. Stevens) after her parents die and makes her one of the indentured servants. Harriet tells the gullible sweetie that “men must be tamed by women.” When Clare finds a good suitor, Harriet breaks it up by spreading poisonous lies about him. Harriet is even willing to spoil the business opportunities of her easy-going husband Walter (Wendell Corey), whose blind love fails to see her as a sick woman who is filled with hatred for the world and that she’s taking away his manhood by her possessive and domineering ways. His eyes are finally opened up after she ruins his promotion and a business trip to Japan he was looking forward to by lying about his character to his boss, and he leaves her.

The meanie Crawford fools her dim hubby, her dull niece and the doddering fool of a boss (Raymond Greenleaf), when she’s so obviously a bad egg that perhaps only a blooming idiot wouldn’t be able to detect that this is a wicked lady.

Though Crawford is well cast as the bitch, it’s all academic since there’s nothing much about this man-hater melodrama that held my interest.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”