Skip to content

Directed by Curtis Bernhardt

United States 1947 108 mins.

Joan Crawford was nominated for an Academy Award—only the second of her long and distinguished career—for her role as Louise Howell, the nurse for an oil man’s (Raymond Massey) ill wife, and who is unhealthily obsessed with her engineer neighbor, the fatalistic David Sutton (Van Heflin). When David falls for—and quickly marries—the oil man’s daughter Carol (Geraldine Brooks), is he doing so out of love for Carol, or out of spite for Louise and her obsession? Featuring stunning set-pieces illustrating Louise’s rapidly declining mental health, as well as many compositions taken from the German expressionist playbook, “this picture, directed by Curtis Bernhardt, is often very striking, and, clearly, he and the cast are doing their damnedest. Insanity is used, in the usual 40s Hollywood manner, to provide an excuse for high-on-the-hog melodrama; there isn’t a trace of believability—that’s part of what makes it enjoyable.”—Pauline Kael.

Genres: Film Noir

Appears in: Bette & Joan



The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.