Harriet Craig

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Harriet Craig
Original Film Poster
Directed by Vincent Sherman
Produced by William Dozier
Screenplay by Anne Froelick
James Gunn
Based on Craig's Wife
by George Kelly
Starring Joan Crawford
Wendell Corey
Music by George Duning
Morris Stoloff
Cinematography Joseph Walker
Edited by Viola Lawrence
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
  • November 2, 1950 (1950-11-02) (United States)
Running time
94 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Harriet Craig is a 1950 American drama film starring Joan Crawford. The screenplay by Anne Froelick and James Gunn was based upon the 1925 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Craig's Wife, by George Kelly.[1] The film was directed by Vincent Sherman, produced by William Dozier, and distributed by Columbia Pictures. Harriet Craig is the second of three cinematic collaborations between Sherman and Crawford, the others being The Damned Don't Cry! (1950) and Goodbye, My Fancy (1951).[citation needed]

Plot and cast[edit]

Harriet Craig (Crawford) is a neurotic, manipulative, and controlling perfectionist. She is obsessed with maintaining her ideal of perfection in the appearance of both her home and herself. She seems to believe that those around her exist only to fulfill her ideal life. Achieving this goal makes life miserable for everyone around her. Harriet shares her home with her loving husband Walter (Wendell Corey), her orphaned and grateful cousin Clare (K. T. Stevens), and two maids—one of whom has worked at the house since Walter was a child. Harriet and Walter do not have any children as Harriet has told Walter that she is unable to conceive. Before marrying Walter and becoming the "lady" of his family's home, Harriet had a difficult life which included a philandering father. This caused her to be hateful and distrustful of men.

Harriet is rude to the two maids and bullies the nervous one, eventually firing both of them individually. She keeps Walter's friends away from the home, including his best friend Billy Birkmire (Allyn Joslyn). When Clare falls in love with Walter's co-worker, Wes Miller (William Bishop), Harriet puts an end to the romance with lies. When it appears Walter will receive a coveted work assignment that will require him to travel abroad without her, she sabotages the plans with a treacherous lie to his boss.

Eventually, everyone learns the truth about Harriet. Clare overhears Harriet admit to Walter that she lied to sabotage Clare's relationship. As a result, Clare packs and leaves. She would rather survive alone in the world than live with manipulative Harriet. Walter deduces that it was Harriet who convinced his boss to cancel his work assignment. When he does, he drinks straight liquor, makes himself comfortable on the pristine sofa, and intentionally smashes Harriet's beloved household possession, a priceless Ming vase—symbolic of her control and obsession with perfection. When Harriet finally admits to Walter that she lied about firing the long-term maid, lied to his boss, and has lied to him throughout their marriage about her inability to have children, he walks out, leaving Harriet alone with her one true love and the only thing that she can truly control—the house.

The supporting cast includes prolific character actress Ellen Corby as a bullied maid.[2] Corby later became widely known as Esther "Grandma" Walton on the popular TV series The Waltons for seven seasons beginning in 1972.[3]

Production notes[edit]

The film was based on the 1925 play Craig's Wife by George Kelly. Two previous film versions were both entitled Craig's Wife, the first a 1928 silent film directed by William C. DeMille (Cecil B. DeMille's brother),[4] and the second a 1936 film directed by Dorothy Arzner and starring Rosalind Russell.[5]


Variety commented: "Joan Crawford does a prime job of putting over the selfish title-character." Otis Guernsey of the New York Herald Tribune wrote: "[Crawford] remains, as always, a stylish performer in her clear and forceful characterization."[6]

Home media[edit]

The film has been released on VHS home video. As of November 2012, it is available on Region 1 DVD through the TCM Vault Collection and Region 2 DVD (Japan, Europe, South Africa, and the Middle East, including Egypt).[7]


External links[edit]