Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


Joan in "Rebel Ranger" on Zane Grey Theater

Joan Crawford appeared in one famous movie western, Johnny Guitar, Some of the TV series Joan appeared in included such westerns as The Virginian and two episodes of Zane Grey Theater.

Joan appeared on Zane Grey Theater, which was hosted by Dick Powell, in 1959 and 1961. In the first story, "Rebel Ranger," she plays Stella Faring, who has lost her rebel husband in the Civil War, and only wants to return with her son, Rob (Don Grady), to the home they once shared. Unfortunately, the house was taken by the Yankees and sold to Case Taggart (Scott Forbes), who says that he is the legal owner and she and the boy cannot stay. Stella moves in anyway, and soon others are interfering in this mini-war until someone gets shot. This is a very interesting story with a fine performance from Crawford and from handsome Forbes [Adventures of Jim Bowie], who appeared mostly on television in the US and England where he was born. Young Grady and John Anderson as a friend of Stella's are also notable. ***.

Joan in "One Must Die" on  Zane Grey Theater
On the other end of the spectrum is "One Must Die," in which John Baylor (Philip Carey) comes to a house in Texas to arrange a will for a dying man, Hobbes (Carl Benton Reid). Hobbes has two daughters, Sarah and Melanie, both played by Crawford, but it is obvious from the first that this is a lame split personality story that was hackneyed long before 1961. Joan is good, if a bit too old, for the part, but at least she gets to spit out the line: "You call yourself a man -- wanting someone as drab and sexless as Sarah!" The woman's mental problems are resolved so quickly at the end that it's comical. *1/2.

Joan appeared on The Virginian in 1970 in an episode entitled "Nightmare." In this Stephanie White (Crawford) marries John White (Michael Conrad), but he is crippled in an accident and dies in a fire. After she inherits his business, to his brother's consternation, it is discovered that her first husband died under similar circumstances. When Stephanie is accused of murder, the Virginian (James Drury), is one of the few who believe in her innocence. Joan has some very good moments in this.**1/2.


angelman66 said...

I dimly remember seeing a Zane Grey with Joan...she seemed quite at home in the genre.
Johnny Guitar is awesome, too, I love the latent lesbian sparks that fly between Crawford's character and Mercedes McCambridge...

William said...

Not to mention the sparks that flew between Crawford and McCambridge on the set with Sterling Hayden caught in the middle! Talk about a "feud" -- these two ladies disliked each other a lot more than Crawford and Davis did, LOL!