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Joan Crawford was a study in paradoxes. She adopted at least as many children as she had husbands, but she took in these children during her single years. She was known as a tough customer with unbridled ambition, but she apparently never got over her insecurities stemming from an impoverished, fatherless upbringing and 6th-grade education. This 53-minute biography, part of The Hollywood Collection, covers her personal and professional life until her death in 1977. A couple of her lesser-known directors, several actors (including Cliff Robertson), a costumer, a film historian, and one of her children appear on camera to give viewers a broader picture of the often- stereotyped icon. Movie stills, film clips (The Women, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?), and audio tape of Crawford fill in the gaps. Conspicuously absent is the daughter who wrote the "wire hangers" tell-all, but the controversy is mentioned and the stories refuted. Most fascinating, perhaps, is the fact that she was considered over the hill and fired by one studio before her Oscar-winning role in Mildred Pierce. Her story is not a pretty one, but it is a resilient one. --Kimberly Heinrichs
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