The Gorgeous Hussy
|The Gorgeous Hussy|
Original film poster
|Directed by||Clarence Brown|
|Produced by||Joseph L. Mankiewicz|
|Written by||Stephen Morehouse Avery
Samuel Hopkins Adams (Novel)
|Music by||Herbert Stothart|
|Cinematography||George J. Folsey|
|Editing by||Blanche Sewell|
|Release dates||August 28, 1936|
|Running time||103 minutes|
The Gorgeous Hussy is a 1936 film directed by Clarence Brown, and starring Joan Crawford and Robert Taylor. The film's plot tells a fictionalized account of President of the United States Andrew Jackson and an innkeeper's daughter. The screenplay was written by Stephen Morehouse Avery and Ainsworth Morgan, which was based on a novel by Samuel Hopkins Adams. The supporting cast includes Lionel Barrymore and James Stewart.
In 1823 Washington, Major O'Neal (Gene Lockhart) and his daughter Margaret "Peggy" O'Neal (Joan Crawford) run an inn that is frequented by politicians. Peggy's outspoken and astute opinions have earned the admiration of men such as Andrew Jackson (Lionel Barrymore) and Daniel Webster (Sidney Toler). Virginia senator John Randolph (Melvyn Douglas), with whom Peggy is secretly in love, seems only to regard her as a child. When new inn resident "Bow" Timberlake (Robert Taylor) refers to Peggy as a "tavern girl," however, John slaps him. Bow soon falls in love with Peggy himself and proposes, but she refuses, then goes to John's room one night to confess her love for him. He sends her away, thinking that she is too young and does not really mean it, but begins to have a change of heart. When he finally realizes that they are both in love, however, he learns from Bow that Peggy has finally consented to marry him. Peggy again talks to John about their future, but John again rejects her, thinking that the younger Bow would be a more suitable husband.
Because he is an officer on USS Constitution, Bow must leave for a three-month tour of duty shortly after their wedding. When the Constitution returns to Washington, Peggy learns that Bow has died. In 1828, Jackson is elected president amid a campaign of mud slinging aimed at his beloved Rachel (Beulah Bondi), whom he inadvertently married before her divorce from her first husband was final. Soon after the election, Rachel dies after asking Peggy to look after Jackson. Peggy then becomes the president's official hostess and confidante, causing many of the Washington political wives to gossip and snub her. At the same time, Jackson comes under political fire from Southerners such as Randolph, who feels he has turned against them by his stand on state rights.
At a ball, Peggy is excited to see John after his five-year absence from Washington and asks him to dance with her before dinner. When her childhood friend, "Rowdy" Dow, wants to fight Southern senator John C. Calhoun (Frank Conroy) because of an insulting remark about Peggy, however, she interrupts and asks him to dance instead. Seeing Rowdy and Peggy dancing, John returns home, but is followed by Peggy, who once again professes her love. This time, John admits his own love and the two plan to marry. Soon after telling Jackson what has happened, however, Peggy realizes that differing political views will never allow her and John to be happy, and they part.
A short time later, Secretary of War John Eaton (Franchot Tone), who has loved Peggy for years, proposes. She is fond of him, and believes, like Jackson, that marriage will bring her respectability. A year later, Rowdy comes to visit and tells Peggy that John Randolph has been shot and is near death. She asks Rowdy to take her to see her John, who was shot by Sunderland (Louis Calhern), a Southerner trying to prevent him from revealing to Jackson a proposed violent rebellion. John dies contentedly after Peggy's visit. On the way back to Washington, Peggy and Rowdy's coach is accosted by Sunderland, who demands safe passage to Washington in exchange for not revealing that he has seen them. Rowdy throws him out, but soon Jackson's cabinet members and their wives come to him to demand that Peggy be sent away from Washington. When Peggy arrives at the meeting, Jackson lies by saying she was sent to see John Randolph by him and that Rowdy was asked by John Eaton to accompany her. Jackson then demands the resignation of his entire cabinet, except for Eaton. This somewhat mirrors the actual events, known as the "Petticoat affair".
Finally, Peggy, who knows that even Jackson's kind lie will not lead to her acceptance in Washington, asks him to send John Eaton as the special envoy to Spain where she knows that they will find contentment.
- Joan Crawford.... Margaret "Peggy" O'Neal
- Robert Taylor.... 'Bow' Timberlake
- Lionel Barrymore.... Andrew Jackson
- Franchot Tone.... John Eaton
- Melvyn Douglas.... John Randolph of Roanoke
- James Stewart.... 'Rowdy' Dow
- Alison Skipworth.... Mrs. Beall
- Beulah Bondi.... Rachel Jackson
- Louis Calhern.... Sunderland
- Melville Cooper.... Cuthbert
- Sidney Toler.... Daniel Webster
- Gene Lockhart.... Major O'Neal
- Clara Blandick.... Louisa Abbott
- Frank Conroy.... John C. Calhoun
- Nydia Westman.... Maybelle
- Willard Robertson.... Samuel D. Ingham
- Charles Trowbridge.... Martin Van Buren
- Rubye De Remer.... Mrs. Bellamy
- Betty Blythe.... Mrs. Wainwright
- Zeffie Tilbury.... Mrs. Daniel Beall
Howard Barnes in the New York Herald Tribune noted, "In the title role Joan Crawford is handsome, although century-old costumes do not go well with the pronounced modernity of her personality. She makes of Peggy Eaton a straightforward and zealous figure....[A] show that is rich with trappings and accented by moments of moving intensity."
The Gorgeous Hussy was one of Crawford's highest grossing pictures during her years at MGM. At a cost of $1,119,000, it was also the highest budgeted film she had made up to that time. The film grossed a total (domestic and foreign) of $2,019,000. 
- MGM film grosses, 1924–1948: The Eddie Mannix Ledger
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Appendix 1: "MGM Film Grosses, 1924 - 1948" from the Historical Journal of Film, Television, and Radio, Vol. 12, No. 2  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01439689200260081#preview
- The Gorgeous Hussy at the Internet Movie Database
- The Gorgeous Hussy at allmovie
- The Gorgeous Hussy at the TCM Movie Database