Susan and God (1940)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Marriage Drama, Religious Drama  |   Release Date - Jun 7, 1940 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 115 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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After Norma Shearer decided she was not prepared to play the mother of a teen-aged child, Joan Crawford was awarded the starring role in Susan and God. The result is one of Crawford's finest performances. Never one to bring a light touch to comedy (or anything else), Crawford plays the humor that is so important to the first half of the film by emphasizing the excessive, almost frenetic energy of a character that uses religion to avoid the real problems in her home life. Her Susan's self-involvement is both amusing and irritating, and Crawford walks the fine line between these attributes without stumbling. Still, despite her efforts the character does become a bit tiresome, and while screenwriter Anita Loos has provided plenty of sharp lines and witty dialogue, neither she nor director George Cukor is able to keep the film from sagging as it goes along. Cukor does provide a customarily handsome production -- too much so at times, as the constant parade of designer clothing becomes distracting -- and both he and the star are well served by the rest of the cast. Fredric March in particular turns in a finely shaded performance, while a young Rita Hayworth is a delight and crusty Marjorie Main walks away with a number of scenes. Susan certainly tackles an unusual subject for Hollywood; that the script did not handle it more successfully is unfortunate, but the players make it quite watchable.