M-G-M has supplied Joan Crawford with a strong starring vehicle in Torch Song, and she makes it her show all the way, as well as a topnotch woman’s picture. There are striking gowns, high-styled but not extreme, class background settings and an overall polish that goes well with the story and its characters. Script is based on a story by I.A.R. Wylie.
The picture tells a backstage story of Jenny Stewart, a successful musical comedy star on Broadway. The career drive has left her a lonely woman, but too self-sufficient to acknowledge needs outside of herself. This tough veneer begins to crack when Tye Graham (Michael Wilding), a war-blinded pianist, substitutes for her regular vocal arranger and accompanist. Her reluctant interest in this man builds to a tremendous scene in which she, alone in her bedroom, simulates blindness to discover what it must be like to live in a world of darkness.
The simulated blindness scene and several others come over with a sock dramatic impact, and there are little touches throughout, such as the growling dislike Wilding’s seeing-eye dog has for the actress, that maintain audience interest even when the pace has a tendency to falter.
The musical star character has four songs, several rating reprises. ‘Tenderly’, one of the four, also themes the background score which is ably directed by Adolph Deutsch. ‘Two Faced Woman’, by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz, is spotlighted in the picture’s big high-yellow production number. Crawford’s terp chores and the production number were staged by director Charles Walters, who also cut himself in as her dance partner.
Gig Young is somewhat lost in the role of a shallow, tippling young man in the star’s entourage.