Jeanne Crain spent her primary Hollywood years portraying cinematic sweethearts. She was everyone’s faithful sister (Leave Her to Heaven) or the ingénue who bloomed when romance arrived, fully collared, at her door (The Model and the Marriage Broker). Nicely aging into roles in a series of mild noir films like Vicki and Dangerous Crossing, wherein she played elegant, frightened women facing deadly circumstances with trembling aplomb, she wound up her career, as many movie queens before her, in genre films.
She had to do little but look pretty in the midrange disaster epic Skyjacked. Her primary function there, in her final screen role, being to serve up devoted energy as a proud doctor’s spouse. Immediately before that less showy part, though, she proudly enacted a heavily utilized terror stereotype – the woman on the verge of emotional collapse. As the headliner of the cast of The Night God Screamed, playing a preacher’s wife stalked by a Manson-like cult, she fully committed to the disheveled, wide-eyed histrionics necessary for the undertaking.
Sure gold as the melodramatic heroine, a duo of guest shots on Burke’s Law in 1964 nicely confirmed her eclectic talents to the world. There she played against type as egocentric ladies of leisure and highly emotional murderesses. Despite these feats, she retired from the screen thirty years before her death. (She passed away in 2003 at the age of 76.) Thankfully, as night bleeds regularly into dusk, celluloid insomniacs can still discover her work on various media platforms, experiencing her never-ending magic as if anew.
Fun Fact: Crain had the less-than enviable task of replacing Marilyn Monroe opposite Jane Russell in Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, the cinematic quasi-sequel to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Even Russell was rumored to have felt that her very quiet, dignified costar was miscast. Still, Crain, whose vocals were mainly handled by the oft utilized Anita Ellis, proves that she was in on the fun via her enjoyable take on I Want To Be Loved By You on the film’s soundtrack LP.
Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!