So, how much did you know about Joan’s “Noir” — in every sense — years?
Above is yet another picture from our Donald Gordon Collection of Stars of the 1940s. As we have mentioned many times, Donald’s collection came to us upon his death via a circuitous route, and we are happily sharing his informal shots with you.
Where Donald took this picture we don’t know, but we are nonetheless in awe of its busy period automobile backround and the demure pose (note the pursed lips) of today’s subject — a brunette Joan Bennett.
The change in hair color cued Joan’s starring in a string of comedies including She Couldn’t Take It and The Man Who broke the Bank in Monte Carlo. There were the five pictures directed by Fritz Lang including 1944’s The Woman in the Window and Scarlett Street, both with Edward G. Robinson.
Then there were pictures directed by the likes of Jean Renoir and Max Ophuls. To cap it all off, Bennett appeared in two big commercial hits for MGM, Vincente Minnelli’s Father of the Bride and Father’s Little Dividend sharing the limelight with Spencer Trace and Elizabeth Taylor.
She appeared regularly on the Sixties tv series Dark Shadows. In 1976 she landed a role in Italian director Dario Agento’s by-now infamous horror title, Suspiria.
One mostly neglected Bennett picture we like a lot is Hollow Triumph, a dark film noir superbly photographed by John Alton about a criminal mastermind (Paul Henreid) who evades police capture by taking on the identity of a psychiatrist (also Henreid) whom he resembles. A key plot point is the facial mark distinguishing the two (the movie was later retitled, The Scar).
There’s a bungled gambling joint robbery, there’s violent retribution, murder, shootouts and late night car chases and — Joan Bennett. In one of her best roles, she portrays the beautiful, efficient but doomed secretary to the psychiatrist who become Henreid’s romantic plaything. Her character’s motto: It’s a bitter little world full of sad surprises, and you don’t let anyone hurt you. Need we tell you the movie ends unhappily for both?
Joan’s final outing in 1982 was a tv movie ironically titled Divorce Wars: A Love Story. (Remember, she went through four marriages.)
Ok, let’s get to the answer to today’s Joan Bennett as Brunette Quiz. We provided the illustrations; you had to come up with the titles. Here we go:
Question: Joan starred as Princess Maria Theresa in this 1939 costume outing costarring Louis Hayward. The title is…
Answer: The Man in the Iron Mask.
Question: Many regard this 1944 noir entry Joan’s one of Joan’s finest outings. Her costar? The formidable Edward G. Robinson. The title is…
Answer: The Woman in the Window.
Question: Joan play’s Walter Pidgeon’s love interest in this 1941 anti-Nazi thriller directed by Fritz Lang. The title is…
Answer: Man Hunt.
Question: Joan shows her intelligence and her sex appeal in this 1948 thriller, playing a doomed secretary to Paul Henreid’s double-dealing criminal mastermind.
Answer: Hollow Triumph.
Question: This time it’s Joan portraying Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, a member of a wealthy if slightly deranged family, in this late Sixties tv soap opera. Joan’s rendition won her an Emmy nomination in 1968. The title of this tv series is…
Answer: tv’s Dark Shadows.