A vivid presence from her first talking appearance (in the 1929 Bulldog Drummond) into the age of television—she starred in 389 episodes of the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows—and beyond, Joan Bennett was unquestionably one of the most enduring stars in American film. Yet much of Bennett's longevity can be attributed to her willingness to change with the times and invent herself anew for succeeding generations of filmgoers. She passed through three major periods in her career, beginning as a winsome, ethereal blonde (her natural hair color) in the early 1930s, acquiring a sudden dose of red-blooded womanliness with her transformation into a smoldering brunette in Tay Garnett's 1938 Trade Winds, and achieving a rare maturity with her portrayals of emotionally complex, middle-aged women in the late 1940s and 1950s (Jean Renoir's The Woman on the Beach, Max Ophuls's The Reckless Moment, Vincente Minnelli's Father of the Bride). This introductory program focuses on Bennett's formative ingénue period at Fox in the early 1930s, and includes four rare features never available on television or home video.
Organized by Dave Kehr, Adjunct Curator, Department of Film.