The Gorgeous Hussy

Overview

The Gorgeous Hussy purports to be based on the life of Margaret "Peggy" O'Neill, the controversial wife of early 19th-century politician John Eaton, who served as cabinet minister during the Andrew Jackson presidency. Snubbed by the Washington elite because of her questionable background as a tavernkeeper's daughter, "Pothouse Peg" is championed by her longtime friend Jackson, who chooses to ignore the gossip-mongers and the scandal-provokers of the era. He even stands by Peggy's side when one of her admirers ...
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Overview

The Gorgeous Hussy purports to be based on the life of Margaret "Peggy" O'Neill, the controversial wife of early 19th-century politician John Eaton, who served as cabinet minister during the Andrew Jackson presidency. Snubbed by the Washington elite because of her questionable background as a tavernkeeper's daughter, "Pothouse Peg" is championed by her longtime friend Jackson, who chooses to ignore the gossip-mongers and the scandal-provokers of the era. He even stands by Peggy's side when one of her admirers Melvyn Douglas is ignominiously killed by his enemies. Some historians believe that the "gorgeous hussy" and Jackson were themselves lovers, but this is never hinted at in the film, which is described in a foreword as "fiction founded upon historical fact." Joan Crawford wears an exhausting succession of gorgeous gowns as Peggy Eaton, but she can't do much to enliven her sketchily written role; one is aware that she brings disgrace to everyone she meets, but one is hard-pressed to understand why. Much better within the framework is Lionel Barrymore as Jackson, Beulah Bondi as "Old Hickory"'s pipe-smoking wife, Rachel, and Sidney Toler two years away from Charlie Chan as Daniel Webster. James Stewart is also in the film as one "Rowdy" Dow, a role he later chose to forget.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
There's an interesting movie to be made from the life and times of Peggy O'Neal Timberlake Eaton -- but it's not to be found in The Gorgeous Hussy, a bowdlerized and fuzzy biopic of this controversial figure. Historically, the film is a lot of mush (which it admits with a strange note to that effect upfront), fictionalizing a romance between the title character and John Randolph that ends in death by duel (whereas the real Randolph died by natural causes and was in no way romantically linked with Peggy). Unfortunately, it's also a lot of mush dramatically. The Joan Crawford-Melvyn Douglas "unrealized romance" plot works fairly well, and the Robert Taylor sequence is fairly satisfactory; but once the story begins to revolve around how alienated Crawford is by Washington, D.C., society, it becomes silly -- mainly because the cause of that alienation isn't really delved into and explored in an interesting manner. The politics are ridiculously telescoped and simplified, and Crawford's character isn't made three-dimensional enough. For her part, Crawford tries hard, but she's miscast in the kind of role that Irene Dunne would have sailed through. Louis Calhern is annoying, playing his role as if he were the villain in an old-time melodrama, and James Stewart is surprisingly bland, but the rest of the cast is good. Lionel Barrymore has a grand old time, and Douglas' quiet understatement is very effective; but the best performance comes from Beulah Bondi, whose Rachel is both tender and touching, and touchingly vulnerable.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/15/2010
  • UPC: 883316256893
  • Original Release: 1936
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Presentation: B&W / Pan & Scan
  • Time: 1:43:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 17,955

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Joan Crawford Peggy O'Neal Eaton
Robert Taylor Bow Timberlake
Lionel Barrymore Andrew Jackson
Franchot Tone John Eaton
Melvyn Douglas John Randolph
James Stewart Roderick "Rowdy" Dow
Alison Skipworth Mrs. Beall
Louis Calhern Sunderland
Beulah Bondi Rachel Jackson
Melville Cooper Cuthbert
Sidney Toler Daniel Webster
Gene Lockhart Maj. O'Neal
Clara Blandick Louisa Abbott
Frank Conroy John C. Calhoun
Nydia Westman Maybelle
Charles Trowbridge Martin Van Buren
Willard Robertson Secretary Ingram
Rubye DeRemer Mrs. Bellamy
Betty Blythe Mrs. Wainwright
Zeffie Tilbury Mrs. Daniel Beall
Oscar Apfel Tompkins
Hooper Atchley Agitator
Edith Atwater Lady Vaughn
Louise Beavers Aunt Sukey
Ward Bond Officer
Wade Boteler Agitator
Phoebe Foster Emily Donaldson
Lew Harvey
Tom Herbert Slave Dealer
Samuel S. Hinds Commander
Harry Holman Auctioneer
Elsa Janssen Dutch Minister's Wife
Sam McDaniel Butler
Greta Meyer Mrs. Oxenrider
William Orlamond Herr Oxenrider
Lee Phelps Bartender
Richard Powell Doorman
George H. Reed Braxton
Bert Roach Major-Domo
Sid Saylor Agitator
Harry Strang Navigator
Fred "Snowflake" Toones Horatius
Morgan Wallace Slave Buyer
Technical Credits
Clarence Brown Director
Adrian Costumes/Costume Designer
Stephen Morehouse Avery Screenwriter
George Folsey Cinematographer
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Joseph L. Mankiewicz Producer
Ainsworth Morgan Screenwriter
Val Raset Choreography
Blanche Sewell Editor
Herbert Stothart Score Composer
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