Possessed (1931)



Release Date: November 21,1931
Directed by: Clarence Brown

Joan Crawford

Available on DVD from  The Warner Brothers Archive Collection

DearMrGable.com’s Movie of the Month, October 2011

Crawford is Marion Martin, a disillusioned small town factory worker looking for something better. After a chance meeting with Wallace Stewart (Skeets Gallagher), a drunk Park Avenue man on a train, she heads to New York to fulfill her dreams. He advises her to meet a rich man or she’ll never get along in the city. She takes his advice to heart and when two of Stewart’s friends show up, she squeezes her way into meeting them. Gable appears about fifteen minutes in the film as Mark Whitney, a distinguished attorney. He takes a shining to her almost immediately, despite the fact that she admits to him that she is only after his money. A few years pass and she is Mark’s “kept” lover, taking on all the responsibilities of a wife but without a ring. She has smoothed her rough edges and is now sophisticated and elegant. But Mark is hesitant to marry her because he already went through a nasty divorce some years prior and doesn’t want another scandal while he is trying to enter politics. She becomes ashamed to be his mistress and when she realizes that she is standing in his way of becoming governor, she unselfishly leaves him, letting him believe that she isn’t in love with him anymore.


Photoplay magazine, January 1932

Clark Gable, the suave, worldly politician; Joan Crawford, the girl who comes to the big city to win love, wear beautiful clothes, sparkle with jewels and get very, very dramatic; lots of luxury, lots of charm, lots of smooth talk about courage and marriage and what women want–that’s “Possessed” and you really don’t care if the story is old and some of the lines a little shopworn. For the Gable guy and the Crawford girl make you believe it.

Skeets Gallagher is the not-too-funny comic and Wallace Smith plays the small town lad convincingly. It’s the best work Joan Crawford has done since “Paid” and Clark Gable–he’s everybody’s big moment. If Joan weren’t so good, he’d have the picture. You’ll like this. But while you’re seeing it the kids should be doing their homework.

Photoplay magazine, March 1932

Joan Crawford in another of those companionable-marriage pictures. Clark Gable is the man. Their arrangement is fine until they fall in love. The basic incident of the plot actually happened to Grover Cleveland. It may not make Gable president but it may elect Joan and him unanimously to a high place in the screen world.

Picture Play magazine, March 1932

Not only is Joan Crawford possessed by Clark Gable–and, girls, without a wedding ring, either–but he soundly smacks her face. Here, then, is a vicarious thrill for those feminine fans who pine for a brutal lover who will treat ‘em rough and make them like it.

This incident is typical of the picture, a shrewd mixture of tried and true situations that spell box office success, not the least of which is the presence of the stars. Miss Crawdord is a factory heroine who achieves luxury, Mr. Gable her wealthy paramour who scorns the governship of his State unless he has inamorata at his side. It isn’t made clear whether he is elected under these conditions, but what the heck?

Scenes of Miss Crawford in gingham, Miss Crawford in satin and sables, Miss Crawford singing in French, German and English; Miss Crawford pretending that she has only been playing with Mr. Gable all along–here is where she gets slapped–and Miss Crawford suffering the anguish of noble womanhood crucified by the man she loves. But all is hunky-dory at the close and a good time has been had by all–except a few of us.

Mr. Gable, though miscast as a gubernatorial candidiate, does his stuff like a racketeer in spats, and who shall say that it doesn’t draw the crowds? Try to keep them away!

clark gable joan crawford possessed

Quote-able Gable:

“Nice party last night.” first line

“Well a room full of pretty women makes an excellent smokescreen for politics.”

“I like women who know what they want. Sometimes I can help them get it.”

“Wally, I’ve known you for fifteen years and this is the first time you’ve forgotten to mind your own business!”

“Losing a sweetheart is a private misfortune. Losing a wife is a public scandal.”

“Might a gent steal a kiss?”

“Well, we men are pretty much alike. You see, we like to think we stand alone, but there’s generally a woman standing beside us.”

“You asked me to accept a position of honor. I imagine you wanted a man of honor. I was mistaken.”

“I never loved you as much in my life as I do tonight.”

“I don’t believe it! No woman could have pretended to love a man as you loved me!”

“You little tramp!”

“You might have given me two weeks notice. My cook does that.”

“I don’t care what they do to me back there. If I win, it will be with you, and if I lose it will still be with you.” last line

clark gable joan crawford possessed

Behind the Scenes:

The film was shot in 27 days.

Gable and Crawford were in the midst of an affair during the production of the film, despite Gable’s recent marriage to Ria and Crawford’s to Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Crawford said, “In the picture we were madly in love. When the scenes ended, the emotion didn’t.” Both would arrive early to the set and stay long after shooting had completed for the day.

Crawford starred in a film with the same title in 1947, but with an entirely different plot.