A flat, superficial biography that obsesses over Crawford’s sex life as intensely as Crawford reportedly obsessed over having sex.
Along with Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis, Bret finds Joan Crawford “one of four genuinely great movie actresses of the twentieth century.” And from Bret’s account, Crawford got to the top and stayed there most of her life because she was “an easy lay.” In a vague and unclearly sourced account that leans heavily on previously published works (including Crawford’s autobiography) and fan magazine copy, Bret has Crawford initiating sex with her high school football team, then bartering her favors to get stage and film roles (including some early porn flicks). Bret does not take into account the possibility that there’s a light on Broadway for every actor willing to sleep with directors and producers to get work—but that this does not necessarily translate into a successful career. What set Crawford apart from the willing pack? Could she also act? Did the public respond to something in her often splendidly dressed and photographed images? Bret finds her work awful in Rain and enthralling in Humoresque. But rather than analyze why Crawford dominated the film frame in some of the quintessential “women’s films” of Hollywood’s golden age, Bret supplies flatly written plot summaries that are devoid of critical perspective. Beyond the plodding synopses, the work largely becomes another “Who Was Gay/Straight/Bisexual in Hollywood.” Just about everyone, it seems, Crawford included, swung both ways. And most of the men, from this account, were sexually well equipped. Crawford’s second husband, Franchot Tone, was “horse hung.” Gary Cooper and John Barrymore were “two-handers.” And though he may have been the love of Crawford’s life, Clark Gable had modest sexual equipment and, worse, severe halitosis.