Could you say Crawford's middle and final career periods were both 'armour-plated'?
I would divide Crawford's career into quarters:
1) Early Period/the M-G-M years (1925-1943) -- She starts out with a certain vulnerability but morphs into the "armor-plated" Joan of screen legend. You might say that the Mid-Period began at the tail-end of the Early Period. It's just that M-G-M was the wrong studio to properly feature the armor -- a stone without a proper setting, if you will.
2) Mid Period/the Warner Bros. years and immediately after (1943-until she married the President of Pepsi-Cola and began promoting Pepsi products across America) -- This is the period in which the "armor-platedness" reaches its apex.
3) Late Period (1962-1970) -- Kicking off with Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
and ending with Trog
, this is a descent into brutal self-parody (with the exception of Baby Jane
, in which I prefer her performance as Blanche to Bette Davis' hammy overacting as Jane.) The armor is still on but warped and battered.
4) The Afterlife (1978-?) -- That
book and that
If so, I think she's charming enough in the early 30s pictures (although not her dancing, or what I've seen of it, which can be dreadful), and certainly pretty.
She was a Charleston dancer, basically.
I got the impression she was concerned with the concept of her Big Movie Stardom in a very explicit way that was beyond anyone else's.
Yes, and you can see the effects of that relentless quest for perfection as early as 1939.
Comparing the comparatively vulnerable Crawford of Grand Hotel to the armor-plated harridan of The Women will tell you all you need to know about what she lost.
It's off topic but I don't think "armor-plated harridan" applies to her Crystal (Crystal has a lot in common with Flaemmchen). I do understand what you mean by armor-plated but I don't think it begins to apply until much later in her career.
I wasn't referring to the characters, per se. It's Crawford herself. By 1939, she had changed -- the Crawford of Grand Hotel
and the Crawford of The Women
are just different to my eyes. So, even though the parts of Flaemmchen and Crystal are substantively similar, the effect
ends up being radically different.