If you haven't seen it yet, you really need to do so on the big screen. I'm sure the DVD will have extras but Tim Burton is a big screen director. He's not one of those people who lacks a visual style.
Based on the reviews I saw, I was ready for the visuals to thrill me and for nothing else to work. That wasn't how it was, though. The actress playing Angelique, I didn't know her, I felt she faltered. She wasn't awful but because of what's taking place and how it spins the whole story early on, I felt that scene needed to show her stronger. That was it though. The film moves quickly and will have you laughing and then screaming. (And there were some screamers in the auditorium.)
Johnny Depp was amazing as Barnabus. This was a different character and he didn't repeat the way some actors do. But as good as he was, and he was very, very good, Michelle Pfieffer really makes the movie.
I can't imagine anyone else playing Elizabeth Collins and hitting the notes she did or filling the frame the way she did. Not a false note.
I'd forgotten how good she is. She is the best actress in the US who hasn't (yet) won an Academy Award. She really is amazing and she's been gone so frequently over the years that it really is easy to forget just how good she is.
She crackles on the screen. Toni always says that Michelle's the perfect film actress but she doesn't think she'd be good on stage. I don't know whether she would or not but film's the medium she works on so why are you focusing on the stage?
Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were rivals. Joan got her start in silent films (sometimes nudie silent films) while Bette Davis got her start in the theater. And Bette Davis used to be on TV saying that sort of thing. And I can understand it (a) because she and Crawford were rivals and (b) because she wasn't wanted in the silent phase, Hollywood was only interested in Bette once they were doing talkies. But even with Bette and Joan, the criticism is kind of stupid. Joan Crawford was, and wanted to be, a film actress. And she was often very effective. She became a movie star who kept making hits longer than most people. She had hits in the 20s, the 30s, the 40s (won her Oscar then for Mildred Pierce), the fifties, the sixties. Very few people can be stars in one decade. To star in hit films in more than one decade? And she starred. She wasn't doing supporting roles.
Of the two, I prefer Davis. Bette Davis is the 20th century movie star, in my opinion.
But I like Crawford as well. Here's my top ten favorite Joan Crawford films (in order).
1) Mildred Pierce -- her best film. Film Noir was rarely better. And I'm a big fan of Jack Carson and Eve Arden, so I really love it. I have streamed this movie on the road more than any other. (Amazon's made a mini forturne off me!)
2) Flamingo Road -- it lags in places after Lane (Joan) gets married. But it gives her one of the best villains she ever had (Titus the sherrif).
3) Humoresque -- Joan gets her best male co-star ever. No, not Clark Gable. (They were a team in many movies. None of those movies make my top ten but Love On the Run would come closest.) John Garfield. This is another noir.
4) Grand Hotel -- Joan's career goes back so far that, yes, she did do a movie with Greta Garbo. This is it. Joan's a secretary and provides most of the life in the film.
5) A Woman's Face -- I wish the film was better. Joan is excellent. She could have gotten the Oscar for this film. But the script is a little creaky.
6) Female On The Beach -- I love this one. I saw this on TV as a child and thought she was fascinating. Joan's in love with a younger man (Jeff Chandler) and in a thriller like this, that can be dangerous.
7) Sudden Fear. Joan falls in love with and marries Jack Palance. It could be happy days but Palance has a girlfriend (Gloria Grahame) and the two are planning to kill Joan. I think all the above except Grand Hotel qualify as noir.
8) Johnny Guitar. This Nicholas Ray classic it a noir western. I have no idea what the story is. I didn't like it for years. In the 90s, A&E started airing it late nights. I started falling asleep to it. That's how I ended up seeing it -- in bits and pieces. It's visually stunning.
9) The Women. George Cuckor directs all the big and small MGM actresses of that time in this film. Crawford had to beg to get to play the bitch. Her career was going bad (she and Katharine Hepburn and others had just been declared Box Office Poison) and she knew Crystal could bring her back to the top. And the part did. It showed that Joan could play a bad girl -- with no heart of gold.
10) Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? The film that finally teams her with Bette Davis. Bette is crazy Baby Jane. Joan is the film star with the damaged legs. Bette takes her anger out on Joan. When they end up on a beach near the end, a few revelations emerge.
So those are my ten top favorite Joan films. But I do have other Crawford films I enjoy. Torch Song is the only one I enjoy because it's awful. The rest of them I love because she brings something to the films.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"