Top 5 Joan Crawford Movies

Posted by Brandy Dean March 15, 2013 11 Comments 17245 views

The fabulous Joan Crawford had a long career. From her first silent production as a humble double for Norma Shearer in Lady of the Night to her final (and dismal) feature Trog, if nothing else Crawford always worked. There’s a lot of other stuff that swirls around the mythos of Joan Crawford. Maybe she was bat-shit crazy, maybe not. But you can always say this about her – no matter what, she brought her A-game to every movie. I love her and everything about her, and I’ll watch her in any movie. But there are my…

What are your favorite Joan Crawford movies? Tell us in the comments!

Top 5 Joan Crawford Movies

Our Dancing Daughters (1928)


This love letter to the dying Jazz age is a marvel. Starring a very young and very beautiful Joan Crawford, it’s a delight from start to finish. You can read my full review here.


Possessed (1931)

Possessed (1931)

In Possessed Crawford plays one Marian Martin, a factory worker who sleeps her way to the top as the mistress of wealthy attorney Mark Whitney (Clark Gable). This is the 3rd of 8 collaborations between Crawford and Gable and they are electric. Possessed is also a sterling example of Pre-Code filmmaking, with all the salacious innuendo a 1931 movie could muster.

Grand Hotel (1932)

Joan Crawford in "Grand Hotel"

Grand Hotel boasts a magnificent ensemble cast that includes Greta Garbo, Lionel Barrymore, John Barrymore, Wallace Beery, and our Joan. Despite the depth of the assembled talent, Joan Crawford more than holds her own as the fame hungry stenographer Flaemmchen, who’s happy to imply that she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it in the pictures. This movie is a great one, plus Joan is exceptional.

Mildred Pierce (1945)

Joan Crawford in "Mildred Pierce"

This film noir about a long-suffering mother and her ungrateful daughter is hands down, without a question, Joan Crawford’s finest hour. After being fired from MGM for being too old, Joan signed on with Warner Brothers and lobbied hard to land this part. The joke was on MGM, because Crawford won the Best Actress Oscar for her magnificent performance in Mildred Pierce.

Strait-Jacket (1964)

Joan Crawford in "Strait-Jacket"

Strait-Jacket is a cheesy, fairly terrible horror flick that comes late in Joan Crawford’s career. But it is a fine illustration of just how seriously Joan Crawford took every role she played. She brings it in this movie, even though the material doesn’t really deserve the honor.

What are your favorite Joan Crawford movies? Tell us in the comments!

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There are 11 Comments

  1. - March 15, 2013
      -   Reply

    Our Dancing Daughters, Grand Hotel and Mildred Pierce definitely — I think I’ve written something about each of them. Then probably The Women, and finally Humoresque, which might be the only movie that made me feel tender toward Joan Crawford.

  2. - March 15, 2013
      -   Reply

    “Mildred Pierce” and “Grand Hotel” definitely make my top 5 from Crawford. The next 3 titles are fluid, but let’s go with …

    “Rain” and her heartbreaking Sadie Thompson

    Her emotional tour de force in “A Woman’s Face”


    the movie that made me start to appreciate Joan as an actress, “Autumn Leaves”.

  3. - March 16, 2013
      -   Reply

    What? “Reunion in Paris” didn’t make the list? (ha ha)

    This is a fine list, although I would have put “Mildred Pierce” at the top. I could watch that movie every day.

  4. Andy
    - March 16, 2013
      -   Reply

    I’m a big “Johnny Guitar” fan. 🙂

  5. Maureen Nolan
    - March 17, 2013
      -   Reply

    You’ve picked a great “Top 5”. I also liked the 1947 “Possessed”, “The Damned Don’t Cry” and yes, “Reunion in France”. Who appreciated her fans more than Joan? If it were possible I’m sure she’d still be answering her fan mail.

  6. Richard
    - March 17, 2013
      -   Reply

    A worthy list, even Strait-Jacket. I’ll add a few faves of my own:
    Flamingo Road (1949) – Michael Curtiz – possibly my favorite of Joan’s. At first as slow as the sleepy southern town setting, the story gradually accelerates until a whirlwind, head-spinning finish. Sydney Greenstreet is as gross and vile a villain as you’ll ever see. I still remember a rapid scene transition which starts with a dead man on a floor; the camera pulls back until you realize you are seeing a photograph of the dead man being passed from one hand to another.
    The Unknown (1927) – directed by Tod Browning, starring Lon Chaney. Need I say more?
    Daisy Kenyon (1947) – Otto Preminger – an enjoyably off-kilter romantic triangle with amusingly artificial dialogue.
    Rain (1932)
    Sudden Fear (1952) -Jack Palance at his slimiest.

  7. - March 25, 2013
      -   Reply

    Baby Jane. Absolutely
    I like Joan in Female on the Beach – she’s so utterly JOAN in it.
    I’d also go for Humoresque, because of those fabulous close-ups.
    I also like her in THE WOMEN, about the only time I ever thought Joan was successful in comedy. And she looks gorgeous in that bathtub.
    And then there’s QUEEN BEE, which pretty much sums her up.

  8. - April 26, 2013
      -   Reply

    Sudden Fear definitely would be in top 5 and even though the films are ridiculous I’d have to include The Story of Esther Costello and Torch Song.

  9. Sandy Olson-Hill
    - May 23, 2013
      -   Reply

    What ever happened to baby Jane?

  10. - June 9, 2013
      -   Reply

    “The Women” would definitely have to be on the list, along with “Mildred Pierce” and “Grand Hotel.” I’d also include “A Woman’s Face” and “Strange Cargo.” (Although I do dearly love “Possessed.”) The more I think about it, the more movies I come up with that I love — “The Damned Don’t Cry,” “Sudden Fear,” “Humoresque.” Wow.

  11. Howard Casner
    - September 11, 2013
      -   Reply

    An excellent called on Possessed. But Straightjacket? Please. It’s a terrible movie with a terrible performance (if you’re going in that direction, select Whatever Happened to Baby Jane). Instead of Straightjacket, the correct answer is The Women for the fifth one.

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