Aging, but holding on to the glamour girl image that had made her a star in the 1920’s, the mid-fifties were an odd time for Joan Crawford (Strait-Jacket) Not quite ready for William Castle, she starred in Female on the Beach, in which she suffers the slings and arrows of emotional devastation, in luxurious surroundings. Female on the Beach was produced by Albert Zugsmith, who would later become known for campy, exploitation films, explaining some of this film’s narrative elements, and (surprisingly?) telegraphing Crawford’s later career.
Lynn Markham (Crawford) is the wealthy widow of a much older man. Arriving at a beach house that belonged to her dead husband, she wants to move in, and start a new life. The night before, the tenant, Eloise Crandall (Judith Evelyn) had drunkenly fell from a balcony to her death on the beach below under mysterious circumstances. Nonetheless, real estate agent Amy Rawlinson (Jan Sterling, Ace in the Hole) does what she can to hide Ms. Crandall’s activities at the house. More troubling for Mrs. Markham, is the sudden appearance of neighbor Drummond Hall (Jeff Chandler) and his apparent belief that he has the right to come and go from her home as he pleases. Add in her overly friendly next-door neighbors the Sorensen’s (Cecil Kellaway, Natalie Schafer) and Mrs. Markham is at the height of frustration. Predictably, in short order, Lynn finds herself enjoying the attentions of the chiseled, gray haired “Drummy,”until Police Lieutenant Galley (Charles Drake, All That Heaven Allows) suggests that Eloise Crandall’s death might not have been an accident and Drummond was the last person to see her alive.
Robert Hill adapted his own unproduced play The Besieged Heart with Richard Alan Simmons for the screenplay. While the mystery creates some interest, the story itself borders on the ridiculous. When we are first introduced to Lynn Markham, she’s a tough lady; a former Vegas showgirl who married a wealthy man. Now a wealthy widow, she wants to relax at her beach house and start a new life. Yet, here we are, just a couple of days later, and she’s so taken in by Drummy’s charms she’s an emotional wreck? Yeah, it’s a stretch. Story aside, the draw here is the chance to watch Joan Crawford in all her acerbic glory–spewing jaded lines of dialogue as only she can. There’s no denying the chemistry between her and Jeff Chandler, as the two spark off one another. The underrated Jan Sterling displays impressive range, at once pert and then drunkenly angry. Not to be forgotten, Cecil Kellaway and Natalie Schafer steal nearly every scene they’re in. But make no mistake, Female on the Beach is Joan Crawford’s film. She loves, yells and emotes her way to another camp classic.
Framed at its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.00:1, Kino Lorber has provided an impressive 1080p transfer. While the title sequence shows some noticeable specks and a scratch or two, after that, image quality is wonderfully sharp. Grayscale looks very good, with bright whites and excellent black levels.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono soundtrack is clean and clear throughout, with no crackles, hums, pops, or other distortions. Dialogue is clear throughout and has been mixed well with the jazz infused score and limited sound effects.
English SDH subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Audio Commentary with Film Historian Kat Ellinger
- Audio Commentary with Film Historian David Del Valle, Moderated By Filmmaker David de Coteau
- Image Gallery (HD, 15:45)
- Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:24)
- Reversible Cover Art
Female on the Beach (1955)
Movie title: Female on the Beach
Director(s): Joseph Pevney
Actor(s): Joan Crawford, Jeff Chandler, Jan Sterling , Cecil Kellaway , Judith Evelyn , Charles Drake
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery