Joan Crawford is quite miscast in this film's title role, though there's no questioning that she was gorgeous and that there was no one hussier. Surrounded by several leading men (Stewart, Tone, Barrymore, Douglas, and Taylor), Crawford plays the daughter of an innkeeper in 1830s
Washington, DC, and looks terrific in her first costume role, strutting and preening as well as Irene Dunne could have. Barrymore is President Jackson, who is attempting to stave off some secessionists while members of Washington society turn up their noses at him because his wife, Bondi, was a
backwoods girl before he met her. She'd moved in with Barrymore before her divorce from her first husband was granted and thus had been living in what might be deemed sin for quite a while. Barrymore and Bondi stay at the inn, where he befriends Crawford, a forward-thinking woman who advocates
female suffrage. Since the inn is so close to Washington, Crawford is friendly with most of the politicians, as is her father, Lockhart. All of the notables of the time surround her and attempt to win her hand. She's in love with Melvyn Douglas but he keeps her at arm's length. Hurt by the
rejection, she marries Taylor, a young Navy lieutenant, on the rebound. But he is killed soon after in war-related action and she begins a romantic alliance with Tone, who later becomes a cabinet member. Crawford and Tone are happy with each other and her star rises in polite society but the
snobby women oppose her.
Meanwhile, their husbands, like most men in Washington, find her pert, attractive, bright, and worthy. Crawford and Barrymore continue their friendship and she becomes the unofficial White House "niece" to whom Barrymore can unburden himself of his worries without fear of betrayal. The closer she
gets to Barrymore, the more she is hated by those who cannot curry favor, and they start a campaign to sully her name, saying she is disloyal to the country. Barrymore investigates the allegations and determines that the guilty parties are the members of his cabinet. Then he dismisses them all for
their roles in the cabal against Crawford. Rather than cause any further problems, Crawford exits Washington and the nation carries on. This is a lot of story in 103 minutes, and it concerns a little-known, intriguing figure from US history, but that is no guarantee that anyone will be interested
in her life as presented here. THE GORGEOUS HUSSY was a disappointment at the box office, and no amount of advertising could save it. Belah Bondi's performance earned her an Academy Award nomination as best Supporting Actress and the films was also nominated for Best Cinematography. Ward Bond is
seen in one of his earlier roles as an unnamed officer, and Sidney Toler, who was later to make his mark as Charlie Chan, is Daniel Webster.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Joan Crawford is quite miscast in this film's title role, though there's no questioning that she was gorgeous and that there was no one hussier. Surrounded by several leading men (Stewart, Tone, Barrymore, Douglas, and Taylor), Crawford plays the daughter… (more)