- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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Goes Where Few Films Have
While initially a theme about May/December romance with Crawford as the more mature lover, the film takes on a much darker and complex path about half way through. Direction by Aldrich, as usual, is top-notch. Joan is fine as the older woman, but she's held back by the leftover MGM polished facade. Her eyebrows seem to compete with her for screen-time. If only she'd let herself fly her freak flag even once in her career, it could have been game changing. Cliff Robertson is brilliant as the boyish, but troubled, suitor. He's like an edgier and sexier young Tom Hanks. He should have received accolades for his performance. Joan was classy enough to acknowledge it in her own way. I've rarely seen mental illness so accurately portrayed on the screen. Cliff's descent is harrowing and absolutely raw but not at all showy. How his illness affects those closest is genuine and intelligently handled. His relatives turn their backs on him, leaving it up to the only one who truly loves him. Some scenes of his treatment are abhorrent to us now and hard to watch, but remarkably unflinching. Perhaps it's this realistic take on mental illness that held the film back from being more acknowledged in its day or now. Also, the older woman younger man relationship remains a dubious romance even today. They try to pin some hope on the ending. It's clear, though, the road ahead for them will not be easy. This film goes where few film have, and should be considered an essential to any cineaste's viewing.
One Other Reason to Watch This Film
The film is worth seeing for several reasons, including the portrayal of mental health care in the 1950's, the assumptions about the effect of emotional trauma in causing mental illness, as well as a strong story line. However, my favorite part of this film is the scene where Joan confronts Lorne Greene and Vera Miles, her husband's father and former wife, and the dressing-down she gives them. She calls Vera a "slut". The film is worth seeing just for this scene alone.
O.K. it's a small budget "later Joan" movie, but it was my first VCR Tape that I owned back in the day, so it was a treat watching it again after all these years. I mean it wouldn't be Joan Crawford if she wasn't doing the melo-dramatic suffering, which she does plenty of, and Cliff Robertson was great in an early role, almost prettier than Joan at this point. And good ole Ruth Donnelly as Joans landlady is perfect as always.
Interesting film but TCM had sound problems
- Christine in GA
Yes, the sound was terrible on the most recent viewing. I had my sound turned up to max and could hardly hear anything (loved the Nat King Cole song, though) and then the sound returned to normal for the last 10 minutes or so. I thought the cast was good and one of Joan's better efforts from this era. I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall when Cliff "auditioned" for the role!
Young man loves older woman story
- maureen v.v.
My review is in one word "boring". The movie action was slow.Even the ending of the movie was boring. The music didn't help. I will not buy the DVD or see the movie again.
Schizophrenia is NOT curable. Only the symptoms can be treated with psychotropic drugs.
Great character studies!
In real life, Crawford was 52 and Cliff Robertson was 33 when this film was made. Her character is a woman "of a certain age" who spent her younger years caring for her invalid father. Her youth passed her by when, all of a sudden, she garners the attention of a younger man. I fail to see how anyone cannot understand how this must have felt to a woman that age. He pressures her and she agrees to marry him, although she is unaware that he had witnessed his father and his first wife in bed together and it is driving him into madness. While we may have come a good way into understanding this today, in the 1950s there was very little help available save an asylum and, once he is completely despairing and violent toward her, she feels she has no choice but to commit him. After waiting so long to find love and finally falling so much in love, the angst displayed by her is understandable. Crawford was the perfect actress for this role and Robertson actually gives the performance of his career here. I like this film very much and the ending is a surprise. The descent into madness is a particular aspect of mental illness that most people do not understand and this film gives a very good portrayal of it. For that alone, I would hope people would view this film and try to understand others so afflicted in a more compassionate way.
- Bruce Reber
Sorry, but I'm going to engage in another round of Joan Crawford bashing, as I've done on several of her other films she made in the 50's and 60's. In "Autumn Leaves" she plays a 50-something spinster (that term's probably outdated-single female would be a better one for today) who's so absorbed in self-pity and loneliness that she falls in love with a psychopathic, schizoid compulsive liar (played by Cliff Robertson) who's 20 years younger than she is. What, she couldn't have found a nice, well adjusted man her own age? As several of the other reviewers have said, most of the roles that Crawford played during this time portrayed women in a very negative light, either showing her trying to control men or her being victimized by them. IMO the only decent film she made in the 50's was "The Damned Don't Cry", and the only good one in the 60's was "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?". If it seems like I'm a Crawford hater, then so be it. I'm just telling it like it is, so all you die-hard Crawford fans out there might want to skip this review!
I love this movie it' one of my favorite
"Autumn Leaves" is wonderful
This is the story of an older woman-younger man relationship. The man, played by Cliff Robertson, is mentally ill, but this isn't apparent immediately. The cause of his mental illness is his family, especially his father, played by Lorne Greene. The couple marries, but the man slips deeper into insanity and the wife has no choice other than to institutionalize him. She fears that he only wanted to marry her because he was mentally ill at the time they first met and needed her love, comfort and support. The film shows what institutionalization in the 1950's meant--shock treatments, etc.. At the end, Joan, assuming that her husband doesn't need her anymore, goes to pick him up when he's released, but learns, to her surprise, that he really loved her all along and is sorry for the pain he caused her.
In Love with Joan!!
I a big Joan fan since i was 13 years old no i'm 16 and i'm still going strong! This film is my favorite and i think her best she has ever done. The acting from both Joan and Cliff was out of this world. I really like the pair, they had wonderful chemistry. I've watched this film over 10 times i only stopped because it went away on the site i watched it on. But i mean a wonderful film i would recommend it to any old hollywood lover, or romancer (as i call them), or any Joan Crawford super fan!
Autumn of A Career.
Show of hands...Who buys Joan as a working girl getting by on a typist's salary? The thing I LOVE about Joan is her single-minded attention to detail, particularly in her handling of props and set pieces. Can't you just see her practicing at home with the typewriter and that crazy manuscript stand so that, on camera, she could clatter away at the thing and then rip off the pages and bind them in one fluid movement? She probably had the housekeeper timing her. Christina, fetch Mommy some more Number 2 pencils! I think she thought that kind of precision made her performances "authentic", whereas it just made for an air of calculation and inflexibility, since what really came across was her own self-satisfaction, not the most endearing trait for a leading lady. But I think Joan contented herself with being awesome rather than endearing, in which case mission accomplished. She commanded attention and I and the rest of her fans are happy to give it. "Masochistic histrionics" sort of combines two sentiments expressed here already, and I couldn't agree more, but isn't that what we want the most from this most self-absorbed of all movie divas? Chew that scenery, Joan. Atta girl!
Autumn Leaves (1956)
- Celia Trimboli
Great Joan Crawford weeper. Wonderful song by Nat King Cole. Have a VHS release from the late 1980's or early 1990's.
Autumn Leaves (1956)
- Jay Higgins
Good score, typical Joan Crawford movie of the 1950's, perhaps not quite as good as her others in this period. she's appropriately melodramatic. Cliff Robertson just doesn't cut it though, i think he is miscast and over his head in the role. still, good, as is every film Joan Crawford is in.
I own this film (an unfortunate VHS buy) that proved to be a mistake. It was during the period when I was first learning about Joan Crawford films. I had every intention of liking them. As it turned out I couldn't. The images of women she portrays are so offensive and demeaning. In this film, she's a victim who seems to be throwing herself so sort of 'pity party'. That's just not the kind of poor me plot that I'll ever buy into. Not a film I'd recommend.
Nodding with "mlumiere's" Review
To quote mlumiere: "Autumn Leaves" leaves me with the sense of the film being an "Overwrought soap opera, with Joan Crawford pouring on the masochism and self-loathing." This is what troubles me about the bulk of Crawford's films. I believe she evokes from fans quite a bit of pity for her as a result of repeatedly playing this type of role, which does parallel her own life. Again agreeing with mlumiere: "I like Aldrich's mise-en-scene, but not his direction of Crawford, although, I imagine she was a handful...not always sober or sensible." By this time it was obvious that Crawford was acting desperate to seem younger, doing the strange exaggerated eyebrows & coat-hanger shoulder pads. This made her appearance seem very pretentious and her performances unbelievable. It is also disturbing that 50yo single women were depicted by Crawford "as pitiful deprived creatures...(Check out her pity party at the symphony)" quoting mlumiere who is dead right on point!
I really enjoyed this movie...although I did not get to see the ending. I hope TCM will replay this black and white movie that is not often shown!I want to see how it ends Please!What a cast...and so interesting to know that Cliff Robertson was in a black and white movie...did not realize he went back that far...and starring with Joan Crawford. Also Lorne Greene! Please put this movie on your schedule again.Your Fan, Michele
Overwrought soap opera
Overwrought soap opera, with Joan Crawford pouring on the masochism and self-loathing.It's (unintentionally) funny in many places. I like Aldrich's mise-en-scene, but not his direction of Crawford, although, I imaginee she was a handful, and not always sober or sensible. The best performance belongs to Cliff Robertson, just starting his career. Vera Miles and Ruth Donnely acquit themselves satisfactorily, but Lorne Greene serves up a thick slice of ham to match Crawford's. The film is a good cultural display of how older spinster women (presumably still virgins at 50 or so) (and is any name so cornily obvious as "Millicent Wetherby?") were regarded as pitiful deprived creatures in this pre-2nd wave feminist era. (Check out her pity party at the symphony.) Still it has its moments (the Nat King Cole song is lovely, for one thing); melodrama is never deep, but often not dull.
I loved this movie! In the middle I thought I could tell where it was going, but I was mistaken. It has twists and turns that will keep you in suspense. The leading roles performed wonderfully. I was very pleased with this film. I would recommend it to anyone who likes drama movies.
- tony baksa
Joan Crawford in 1956 was reaching extinction - or so I foolishly thought. Like Bette Davis, this force of nature called Joan Crawford, had the astonishing knack to adjust to the times. You will not see a stereotypical Crawford performance here with all her well know mannerisms. Don't get me wrong. I like the old Joan Crawford. But the 1956 Joan Crawford delivers a beautiful, teary-eyed performance with touches of softness not seen before - at least by me. Her trademark looks and lighting are there in conflict with an amazing, organic, moment by moment performance. You can see hints of what was to come with WHATEVER HAPPENNED TO BABY JANE in AUTUMN LEAVES directed by the same man - Robert Aldrich. I love this movie. Thanks TCM for surprising me with this,for me, obscure Joan Crawford movie,AUTUMN LEAVES.
Wow, great flick!
Once you get past the shoulder pads and brows, Crawford delivers, big time.The young Robertson is creepy and engrossing througout the entire film.From beginning to end "autumn" kind of crawls along in a creepy fog, and get this, it works. At least it did for me.Where did you find this little gem?
This is a good movie by Joan Crawford and should be released to the public on DVD to enjoy.
Joan's Last Truly Great Performance
- Eamon O'Carroll
Though Crawford made several films following "Autumn Leaves" (including "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane") this is truly her last great star performance. She is stunningly professional and confident playing an older woman falling in love with a younger man who -- in time, displays deeply disturbing emotional problems. Cliff Robertson as the young man is Joan's equal and the two together are a joy to watch. A must for Crawford fans and for those who enjoy the menopausal melodrama sub-genre of Women's Pictures.