Review: ‘Susan and God’

Film version of Rachel Crothers' play, with Joan Crawford in the role played by Gertrude Lawrence on the stage, is smartly cast, deftly directed and elaborately mounted. In contrast to the original piece, picture builds up parts of the husband (Fredric March) and young daughter (Rita Quigley) to the equals of Susan (Crawford). In fact, when everything is over, sympathy tends strongly to the former pair rather than the latter.

Film version of Rachel Crothers’ play, with Joan Crawford in the role played by Gertrude Lawrence on the stage, is smartly cast, deftly directed and elaborately mounted. In contrast to the original piece, picture builds up parts of the husband (Fredric March) and young daughter (Rita Quigley) to the equals of Susan (Crawford). In fact, when everything is over, sympathy tends strongly to the former pair rather than the latter.

Crawford returns from abroad a shallow and scatter-brained disciple of a ‘new thought’, or Oxford, movement. In expounding her views strongly amongst her socialite friends, she upsets several happy couples; but is faced with reconstructing her own marital happiness through personal practice of her tenets. Persistence of her husband to keep her in line and sincerity of the couple’s youngster finally bring her to reason.

Crawford provides a strong portrayal of Susan – a mature matron characterization, which is a marked departure for the player. March provides a polished and capital presentation of the bewildered husband who battles through to reestablish happiness in his household. Quigley, as the daughter, is excellent.

George Cukor’s direction highlights the characterizations he unfolds, and his weakness in piloting can be attributed to the slow pace at which he develops the story.

Susan and God

Production

M-G-M. Director George Cukor; Producer Hunt Stromberg; Screenplay Anita Loos; Camera Robert Planck; Editor William H. Terhune; Music Herbert Stothart; Art Director Cedric Gibbons, Randall Duell

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1940. Running time: 115 MIN.

With

Joan Crawford Fredric March Ruth Hussey John Carroll Rita Hayworth Nigel Bruce
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