I recently watched The Bride Wore Red with my monthly Joan Crawford movie group. This film was released on October 8th 1937 and was Joan's seventh film with second husband, Franchot Tone. In my opinion this film was the best pairing with her and Franchot Tone. Tone comes off very charming and appealing. Joan was equally charming and I found her to be quite "cute" in this film. She looked very beautiful with her new straight long hairstyle, which was very reminiscent of how she wore her hair in the 1932 film, Grand Hotel.
The Bride Wore Red was directed by female director, Dorothy Arzner, an openly lesbian director who as one of the only female director's of the time and openly gay. She is credited as "the first true female director." Joan was quoted as saying "she scared the hell out of me." Joan was known to have had sex with both men and women during her lifetime. I don't think Dorothy's sexuality scared Joan as much as Dorothy's very masculine appearance. When Joan was a board member for Pepsi later in her life, she requested Arzner to direct several Pepsi commercials.
The Bride Wore Red also was the film that launched the famous "Box Office Poison" comment that was made about several of the female stars in the late 1930s such as Greta Garbo, Katherine Hepburn, Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford. The Bride Wore Red was a cookie-cutter formula film that Crawford was accustomed to and this formula was wearing thin with the fans. Crawford did not take the comment, "Box Office Poison," lightly and started to focus her sites and goals on changing the direction of her career. Two years after The Bride Wore Red was released, Joan made a comeback in the blockbuster film The Women as he husband stealing "bitch" Crystal Allen.
Above: Joan Crawford with her second husband, Franchot Tone, in their seventh and last film together, The Bride Wore Red (1937).
Although The Bride Wore Red was not reviewed well by critics, the fans still came out to see Joan and the box office receipts showed that. The film grossed 1.2 million dollars, which equates to close to 19 million dollars today. However, the film cost MGM close to one million dollars to produce, so the studio looked at it as a wash. One of the highlights in the films was designer Adrian and his stunning costume designs. Fashion shows is what most of Joan's films from the 1930s were called. The Bride Wore Red was no different. Joan was featured in many different gowns and dressed but the one that stood out was the famous "red dress" Joan's wears at the finale of the film. The film would have benefited if the ending could have been filmed in color, but color had not been fully introduced yet to filmdom. The famous red dress was used two more times in a catwalk sequence in The Big Store (1941), and then in it's full glory, thanks to he introduction of color film, in DuBarry was a Lady (1943). The dress still exists today and was most recently shown in 2005 as part of the Fashion Institute of Technology museum show "Glamour: Fashion to Die For."
Above: A modern day photo on display of "the red dress" that was worn by Joan Crawford in The Bride Wore Red (1937).
Overall, The Bride Wore Red is a decent film and a perfect example of a Crawford-formula film from the 1930s. This film is available on VHS, but has not been released on DVD yet. The film is shown often on Turner Classic Movies (TCM), the print looks very clean - I'd predict we see this film in the next Crawford box set.
To see more detailed information, several of photos and trivia about The Bride Wore Red click here.