Queen Bee


The ads for Queen Bee screamed “She’s so excitingly good … when she’s so wonderfully bad,” and there has perhaps never been more truth in the history of movie advertising as Joan Crawford  unleashes high kitsch devastation on everyone in her path in this gloriously hysterical melodrama that became the template for Faye Dunaway’s notorious performance as Joan in the 1981 camp classic, Mommie Dearest.

“A delightfully tawdry affair, with tasty arguments, splendorous tragedies, bad behavior and of course, that unstoppable force, Ms. Crawford.  It’s all riveting.” – Kim Morgan, Sunset Gun

Sporting a dazzling array of Jean Louis gowns and a killer pair of highly-stylized, yard-long eyebrows, Joan destroys the scenery (both figuratively and quite literally, in one memorable sequence involving Joan, a riding crop and a room full of delicate objects just waiting to be smashed) as Eva Phillips, the wicked, man-eating matriarch of an opulent southern mansion. Ever the multi-tasker, Eva keeps herself busy as a bee berating the help, terrorizing her family and ruining as many relationships as possible. Whether dominating her emotional trainwreck of an alcoholic husband Avery (Barry Sullivan), scheming to prevent Avery’s sister Carol (Betsy Palmer) from marrying her beloved suitor Judson (John Ireland), or making her goody two-shoes cousin Jennifer (Lucy Marlow) regret the day she was born, Queen Bee Eva keeps the household hive buzzing.  But will all of Eva’s bad girl antics lead to a shocking final comeuppance?  Take a wild guess.   By her own admission, Joan was rarely as evil on screen as she was in Queen Bee, and it’s clear she relished the golden opportunity to go hog wild in one of her defining camp performances that must be seen to be believed. An overheated combo of Tennessee Williams, Lillian Hellman and John Waters, Queen Bee is a honey of a kitsch classic. (Dir. by Ranald MacDougal, 1955, USA, 95 mins., Not Rated)