Rick’s Actual/Reel Life: Crawford’s Latter Day Greatest: ‘Autumn Leaves’ 1956


A younger Cliff Robertson and mature Joan Crawford have a plausible chemistry
within the Might-September romance, “Autumn Leaves.”

supplied a uncommon sympathetic position for Joan Crawford within the Nineteen Fifties,
the autumn of the good star’s profession.
This was additionally Crawford’s first
collaboration with director Robert Aldrich, often identified for his powerful soak up
storytelling. On this grownup cleaning soap opera, their staff work is delicate and

Joan Crawford’s Milly is a typist and also you higher consider she’s the most effective!

Crawford performs Milly Wetherby, a work from home
typist, who meets a youthful man on a uncommon night out. Burt Hanson, performed by
movie newcomer Cliff Robertson, is a returning veteran. They strike up a
friendship, which ends up in romance. Initially resistant due to their age
distinction, Milly comes to understand that she actually loves Burt. They marry and
the honeymoon interval is idyllic. Actuality intrudes when Burt’s previous catches up
to him within the type of an ex-wife and estranged father. The younger man’s tales
don’t add up, and his household’s model doesn’t communicate effectively for him. And their
declare that he’s unstable is indeniable, as Burt begins to disintegrate. Nonetheless,
there may be greater than meets the attention, as Milly is set to not solely assist Burt,
however get to the reality of the matter.

Crawford’s Milly ultimately realizes that she’s able to take an opportunity on love with
 Robertson’s Burt Hanson in “Autumn Leaves.”

Kudos goes to each
director Aldrich and star Crawford.  They
had been identified to go excessive and each the movie’s course and lead
efficiency are surprisingly restrained and efficient. Sure, there are moments
when Robertson’s troubled younger man’s downfall is a bit voyeuristic. However
Aldrich is empathetic to character Burt Hanson’s plight and makes him neither a
weakling nor a foul man. The director provides this “girl’s image” a noir-ish
take, with digicam work that heightens the strain. Better of all, Aldrich’s look
on the Might-December romance between the typist and the tie salesman is handled

Burt Hanson’s psychological sickness is dealt with sensitively in “Autumn Leaves,”
with out sentimentality or sensationalism.

As for Joan Crawford,
she hardly ever acquired to play a sympathetic character so warmly within the ’50s—an period of
powerful cookies, management freaks, or flat-out neurotic bitches: The Damned Do not Cry; Harriet Craig; This Girl is Harmful; Torch
; Johnny Guitar; Queen Bee; Feminine on the Seashore; and The
Better of Every little thing

Joan Crawford’s Milly, having an evening in town, in “Autumn Leaves.”

Joan’s spinster typist
Milly Wetherby is sensible, assured, but heat and caring; Crawford’s scenes
depicting her loneliness actually resonate. When Millie lastly takes an opportunity
on love, she provides her all, and you take care of Crawford’s character. Together with Child Jane, that is Joan’s greatest latter
day position and efficiency. Aside from a number of trademark Crawford poses in a few of
the large scenes, Joan is at her most real and simple right here.

At practically 50, Joan was in high-quality kind in “Autumn Leaves,” right here with
co-star Cliff Robertson and director Robert Aldrich. 

The one criticism I
have is that it is a disgrace somebody could not get Joan to tone down her visible
fashion in Autumn Leaves. At practically 50,
a swimsuit scene exhibits Joan in high-quality kind and her large eyes and bone
construction had been everlasting. Whereas the notorious Crawford shadows are ever-present,
together with some heavy obligation make-up contouring from the jaw line down, this was fairly
typical of the period. However Joan’s make-up of her eyes, eyebrows, and lips are actually
startling, particularly when she’s in scenes with youthful forged members, who’re made
as much as appear to be merely engaging mortals. Joan’s extreme cropped hair was unlucky
for many of her ’50s.This known as extra consideration to her age, together with some ill-advised
excessive close-ups. 

Unsure who thought excessive close-ups like these of Joan Crawford had been a good suggestion.

As Burt Hanson, this
was Cliff Robertson’s first main man position. Robertson would play one other
mentally challenged man a dozen years later, as Charly, for which Cliff gained an Oscar. Robertson makes use of his boyish allure
to an virtually Jimmy Stewart-like diploma. He is very successful and it’s startling
when he activates a dime right into a rage. When his character is hauled away, Burt
has a male Blanche DuBois second. 

Robertson’s Burt depends upon the kindness of strangers and Crawford’s Milly
in “Autumn Leaves.”

The 1956 movie featured
an awesome supporting forged, with Vera Miles wanting each inch the Hitchcock
blonde because the scheming ex-wife. This 12 months was a escape for Miles in addition to Cliff
Robertson. Together with this showy position, Miles labored with John Ford in The Searchers and Alfred Hitchcock for
the primary time in The Improper Man. Easily
villainous Lorne Greene is memorable as Burt’s father, earlier than he turned saintly
patriarch Ben Cartwright three years later. Ruth Donnelly is a scene stealer as
outspoken however big-hearted Liz, Milly’s condominium advanced supervisor. Additionally, future Child Jane forged member Marjorie Bennett
has an awesome bit because the waitress with an angle.

A hanging shot of Burt’s loving household, as performed by Lorne Greene and Vera Miles.

There’s quite a lot of
pretty scenes in Autumn Leaves: the
banter between landlady Liz and Joan’s work-at-home typist; lonely Joan
decided to have a pleasant evening out solo; the primary assembly of Burt and Milly
on the restaurant; their courtship and the navigation of belief into love; the
scenes the place Milly battles Burt’s egocentric father and ex-wife that give Joan a
likelihood to breathe some hearth; the breakdown scenes, that are practical; and the
ending is hopeful, however not corny.

The 2 Mrs. Hansons: Joan Crawford as the present Mrs.; Vera Miles is the ex!

For a ‘50s movie cleaning soap
opera, Autumn Leaves feels genuine.
It’s a Crawford fan favourite, and even those that aren’t certainly one of Joan’s followers might
be pleasantly shocked.

“Autumn Leaves” appears to be copying the love scene from one other Columbia movie,
 “From Right here to Eternity.” Legend has it that Joan Crawford turned the Deborah Kerr position down!

Additionally, right here’s my look
at Joan’s signature position, Mildred Pierce:

Milly will get her completely happy ending, although warned Burt might need modified as soon as cured,
on the finale of “Autumn Leaves.”