Joan Crawford by Anna Raeburn [Book Review]

In 1986, Little, Brown and Company published a coffee table book of one of Hollywood's brightest stars of the 20th century titled simply Joan Crawford

Interspersed between full-page images of Crawford - from early flapper, to rising star, to mature businesswoman- is a short biography of the star of Mildred Pierce written by Anna Raeburn. It's a delightful, informal, self-referential piece (much like a blog post, but long before they ever existed) which recounts Crawford's rise from poverty in Texas, to her Oscar win, to her fatal battle with illness.

The biography ends at page 8, then the reader is left on her own for the next 100 pages to gaze at the many faces of Joan. And there are many. Each one almost looks like a completely different person. Joan would try any new style at least once.

Most of the photos are from George Hurrell - a legendary photographer whom Crawford insisted should photograph her even after he left MGM in 1932. In the Crawford book, there is a 6-page essay on Hurrell's professional relationship with Crawford titled "Hurrell's Crawford" by Ross Woodman.

The essay begins by bemoaning the fact that Hurrell speaks about his work in worker's terms and not with baroque phrases. After the author settles down, he makes fun observations. For instance, in a Hurrell photo, says Woodman, Crawford's left eye looks directly at the camera, impaling the viewers as they wriggle in their seats, restless with her beauty.

Joan Crawford is a wonderful coffee table book. You might wish to cut out a few of your favorites and frame them.

This post is part 6 of 6 book reviews for  Raquel's Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge Blogathon.

Read more at the Out of the Past website.

The Joan Crawford by Anna Raeburn ISBN-10: 0316500550


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