Joan Crawford’s Lost Triumph

Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! This week, we’re celebrating the anniversary of my birth — and Joan Crawford’s — by honoring the latter, and specifically, her work in an unfortunately seldom-seen film. It’s Letty Lynton (1932), one of the iconic star’s most notorious Pre-Code efforts, first featured here way back in this blog’s infancy.

If you’ve never seen Letty Lynton, you’re not alone — the film is never shown on TCM, and it hasn’t been commercially released in any capacity after the 1930s, following a Federal District Court’s ruling that the script borrowed heavily, without permission, from a play called Dishonored Lady (which itself was adapted for the big screen several times). This sparked a drawn-out series of legal battles that ended with M-G-M granting the infringed-upon parties a major payday and the film being permanently buried. Placed under lock and key like so many other Pre-Code gems, its mystery then grew — exacerbated, in part, by the legend of the “Letty Lynton dress,” a famous gown designed by Adrian and worn by Crawford in both the picture and publicity stills. Allegedly, the look became so popular that it created a mini-fashion trend: puffy sleeves.

As for the film, it has routinely popped up in collectors’ circles since the internet era, and I screened it for this blog in 2013. Back then, I was thrilled with some of the Pre-Code elements that were indeed as prurient as rumors suggested, including its plot about a woman who kills a blackmailing former lover to keep him from blabbing about her salacious past, and I found Crawford’s performance mostly great (save a couple of moments). With hindsight, I would say the film is a typical soap opera from this era, with its value upheld largely by the story beats that would have made it too scandalous to produce only a few years later. But don’t just take my word for it. For the next week, I’m offering subscribers — who comment below to alert me of their educational, private, and non-commercial interest in this piece of cinematic history — access to Letty Lynton, one of Crawford’s most successful films from the Pre-Code era and a rich display of her appeal as a major motion picture star. Here’s an excerpt.



Come back next week for a new Wildcard! And stay tuned Tuesday for Roseanne!

38 thoughts on “Joan Crawford’s Lost Triumph

  1. Oh yes! I’ve seen this in a very washed out copy and hope for more! I can’t believe it’s still locked up yet somehow a few versions of it are out!

    • Hi, bobster427! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      This is likely from the same source, only in 720p. I have emailed you at your AOL address.

  2. I’ve always been interested in seeing “Letty Lynton”, but I’m not sure if my interest stems from it being a Crawford pre-code or that it’s basically been unavailable for decades (aside from multi-generational dupes). It would be nice to be able to give it a fair shake by seeing it in a (hopefully) watchable form.

    • Hi, Harlan! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      This is likely from the same central source, only in 720p. You can get a feeling for quality in the clip shared above — it’s not great.

      I have emailed you at your AIM address.

    • Hi, Jon! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      And thanks for the well wishes! I have emailed you at your yahoo address.

  3. Hi Jackson
    Belated happy birthday!
    Seeing Joan Crawford in one of her films from the Thirties and then comparing her acting to the 40’s on will be an interesting study in development of the changes in her movies from those days to the present. I have seen some of the old films from those days on YouTube so would like to see this one.


    • Hi, Donna! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      And thanks for the well wishes! I have emailed you at your CS address.

  4. Hello — I’m a big fan of Joan’s and would love to see this for my own personal (non-commercial) viewing! Thank you so much.

  5. I just saw “Mildred Pierce” for the first time the other night. I thought it was good but all I could do was think of Carol Burnett in the role. Happy birthday Jackson.

    • Hi, Smitty! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      And thank you for the well wishes! Let me know if you’d like a copy of this unreleased film.

  6. Hello and Happy Birthday! I truly enjoy reading your blog and reliving my sitcom past. I would love to see Letty Lynton for my own personal use; it’s a missing piece of my Crawford Pre Code viewing. Thanks so much!

    • Hi, Denise! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      And thanks for the well wishes! I have emailed you at your gmail address.

  7. Dear Jackson: Thanks for offering access to Letty Lynton. Yes, would be very grateful if you could send to me. Regards, Paul

  8. Hi Jackson. Happy Birthday! It’s my birthday week too. I would love to see Letty Lynton. Thanks!

    • Hi, nycsmallville! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      And thanks for the well wishes — hope you’re having a great week as well!

      I have emailed you at your gmail address.

    • Hi, Issa! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Please subscribe to this blog using your preferred email address and I will send a link your way!

  9. I got a copy of this years ago as well. Although your copy looks better so would like to see it.

    I think it’s essential Crawford and one of her best MGM films.

  10. Happy Birthday Jackson! I thought I had all of Joan’s films in my collection, this should probably do it! Please send. I hope you have a wonderful day!

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