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teaser Possessed (1947)

Joan Crawford made two films titled Possessed. The first was a 1931 romantic drama co-starring Clark Gable. The second, a 1947 film, gave Crawford the chance to play a mentally disturbed woman and an Oscar nomination for Best Actress of the year. Robert Osborne selected Crawford's performance in Possessed (1947) as one of his "should have won an Oscar" picks.

Crawford actually did a great deal of research in preparation for her role, visiting mental hospitals and going over the script with doctors for the sake of authenticity. In fact, her performance seemed so real that one woman sued for invasion of privacy, claiming Crawford had observed her and based the role on her mental treatments.

But Loretta Young's Swedish accent in The Farmer's Daughter won out over psychosis, and Crawford, who says she worked harder on Possessed (1947) than on any other film, lost the Academy Award that year to Young. "Don't let anyone tell you it's easy to play a madwoman," Crawford remarked.

Interestingly, a few days before the Oscar ceremony, Daily Variety printed the results of a poll of over two hundred Academy members. And in this poll, Rosalind Russell was actually picked to win for her performance in Mourning Becomes Electra. Loretta Young was listed in fourth place for her role as The Bishop's Wife, a misprint that should have read The Farmer's Daughter because Young was not nominated for The Bishop's Wife. On Oscar® night, the Variety poll was batting a thousand and had picked every winner correctly leading up to Best Actress. (The Academy also chose this year to change the order in which the awards were presented. Best Actress was the last award given.) Expecting no surprises so late in the night, the audience started heading for the doors and presenter Fredric March actually started to say Rosalind's name before he did a double take and announced Loretta Young as the winner. No one was more surprised to hear her name called than Young who asked to see the envelope before she accepted the award.

The Variety poll would continue for another decade before the public polling practice was discouraged by members of the Academy. You may remember that a similar poll was attempted by the Wall Street Journal last year. This time members were asked by the Academy president not to cooperate.

And as for our Joan Crawford, the Oscar for Mildred Pierce (1945) would be the only one she ever received.

Producer: Jack L.Warner (executive)
Director: Curtis Bernhardt
Screenplay: Ranald MacDougall, Lawrence Menkin, Silvia Richards, Rita Weiman (story)
Cinematography: Joseph Valentine
Costume Design: Adrian
Film Editing: Rudi Fehr
Original Music: Franz Waxman
Principal Cast: Joan Crawford (Louise Howell Graham), Van Heflin (David Sutton), Raymond Massey (Dean Graham), Geraldine Brooks (Carol Graham), Stanley Ridges (Dr. Harvey Williard).
BW-108m. Closed captioning.

by Stephanie Thames

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