Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Watch us on Youtube Join the Archive Mailing List Read our Blog

When Ladies Meet / Susan and God

Joan Crawford in a living room with three other actors.
April 17, 2022 - 7:00 pm

When Ladies Meet

U.S., 1941

Successful novelist Mary Howard (Joan Crawford) starts donning spectacles to impress her married publisher, Rogers Woodruff (Herbert Marshall), but longtime pursuer Jimmy (Robert Taylor) has 20/20 vision for their doomed romance. After befriending Woodruff’s betrothed (Greer Garson) at a social event, Jimmy forces a meeting on the two ladies, both of whom are unaware of the others’ relationship to Woodruff. The results of Mary and Clare’s conversations are some of the most nuanced (if not, 80 years later, a tad outmoded) dialogue between two female characters of Loos’ career. Surpassing a typical ‘40s weepie, woman-centered discourse in When Ladies Meet is sophisticated while the plot stays true to the 1933 pre-Code version directed by Harry Beaumont. By the beginning of the decade, Loos started to curb her output significantly after bouncing in and out of contracts at MGM and riling from personal matters, most notably the institutionalization of and eventual divorce from her long-time husband, John Emerson. This collaborative effort with S.K. Lauren would be the third-to-last original screenplay written by Loos for Hollywood before moving back to New York to again try her hand at playwriting.

35mm, b&w, 105 min. Director: Robert Z. Leonard. Screenwriters: S.K. Lauren, Anita Loos. With: Joan Crawford, Robert Taylor, Greer Garson.

Susan and God

U.S., 1940

Based on Rachel Crothers’ 1937 play, Loos’ satire of socialite Susan Trexel’s (Joan Crawford) newfound piety after a solo European vacation both skewers performative religious fervor and makes light of the selective salvation borne of deep set (and hard-lost) interests in social manipulation. Cinematographer Robert Planck, who also shot When Ladies Meet, allows his camera to be positively infatuated with Crawford, who radiates with the baptismal glow of a soul recently saved. Greer Garson was originally intended for Crawford’s role, making the tension and the reverence we see on screen in When Ladies Meet the following year all the more rooted in realism. The film marks Fredric March’s return to the screen after nearly a two-year absence, during which he was performing on the stage, a split interest he would balance for the remainder of his five-decade-long career. Loos’ script features a dizzying dance of relationships and tones that provide Cukor the scaffolding on which to hang some wildly entertaining performances from the many incredible actors—including a 22-year-old Rita Hayworth—in the film’s various ensemble scenes. Susan and God, a box office flop at the time that didn’t turn a profit, was Loos and Cukor’s next collaboration after The Women, though it also marks the last time they would work together.

35mm, b&w, 117 min. Director: George Cukor. Screenwriter: Anita Loos. With: Joan Crawford, Fredric March, Ruth Hussey.