The Crawford eyebrows? You set out to make a biopic of Joan Crawford and that's what you screw up? Because there are so few pictures of Miss Crawford to work from? Say what? Her brows are the most recognizable thing about her appearance; even her shoulder pads have to take second place to the eyebrows. (The taut and precise mouth comes in third.) I'm veering clear of her very inspired performance, but at the time this film was made Faye Dunaway was physically pretty much perfect casting for Crawford. It isn't Crawford's bone structure, honestly, but it really works. And though I would have given her a darker red lip color in most of the scenes, they got the hair and wardrobe generally, close to... adequate. Not embarrassing, anyway. But how did they manage to mangle her eyebrows so badly?
Early in her career, Crawford had as many variations in eyebrow shape and heft as she did hairstyle and hair color but, by the early forties when Mommie Dearest commences, the two little items had settled into their iconic pattern; with time they colonized more territory, but the shape remained the same: a fairly straight, un-arched line angling slightly up from the bridge of the nose, and then tilting down toward the temple. (The right eyebrow was usually set a little higher and slightly more rounded; they got more exactly symmetrical as she got older and they got bigger.) Dunaway's imposter brows are set way too high, start off curved where Crawford's are fairly blunt, and have an immediate big round arch. (They also make them too heavy too early in the story, so one loses the impact of their ever onward and upward expansion upon her aging face.) And to make matters infinitely worse, they're hard-edged and shiny with unpowdered eyebrow pencil, pointing out the fact that they're hair-free and completely bogus. And, goddammit, the real Crawford eyebrows were quite obviously grown.
This level of artistic failure and professional incompetence on the part of Dunaway's make-up people and all others responsible deserves nothing less than the patented Crawford bitch-slap - something along the lines of the specific wailing she gives to Osa Massen toward the beginning of "A Woman's Face" would be appropriate, I think. But since those responsible for this great cosmetic fiasco are not anywhere at hand, I have resorted to the corrective and healing powers of Photoshop.
The Genuine Joan:
As an added bonus, in the lightbox you can click back and forth between the second two images and watch Faye's eyebrows wiggle. One of life's unexpected pleasures....