The Fabulous Joan Crawford and Getting What You Want

The Fabulous Joan Crawford and Getting What You Want

Finding Great Insights in Old Movies


I’m a fan of old movies, especially those starring Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. Those were two of Hollywood’s great divas and they were known for wanting things their own way. One Joan Crawford movie made good points about getting what you want.

A while ago, I recorded a movie made in 1937 called Mannequin which stars Joan Crawford and Spencer Tracy.

Tracy is a rags-to-riches entrepreneur who builds a shipping company by starting with a single row boat.

Crawford is the hard-working daughter of a poor family living in a brownstone flat and surviving on frankfurters and sauerkraut. Joan’s character, Jessie, is the sole support of her non-working father, shiftless brother and her depressed mother. She finds her surroundings so deplorable that she begs her fight-promoter boyfriend to marry her and save her from that life.

The Tracy character, Hennessey and Jessie meet at the restaurant where Jessie and her new husband, Eddie are celebrating their marriage. Sparks fly for Hennessey, but Jessie loves her new husband. Eddie, always looking for angles, stores Tracy’s reaction away in the back of his mind.

How Not to Be


There’s a particular part of Mannequin  that caught my attention.

Once married, Jessie finds out that her husband is not such a great deal. He gambles his prizefighter’s contract away, which is their only source of income. Even the home Eddie procures turns out to be only borrowed. The owners return home, forcing the newlyweds to vacate. Jessie and Eddie wind up in a worse situation than the one that Jessie left.

Jessie and Eddie return to her parents’ flat for a meal and the men sit around in a discussion while the women make the meal. The men’s conversation is telling:

Pa Cassidy: I tell you my boy, it’s the system that’s all wrong. All the money is in certain pockets and anyone can see that ain’t right.  Agree with me there?

Eddie: Well it ain’t in my pockets, I know that much.

Pa Cassidy:  Where have I got after all these years? And where would I have got if I had some money to work with in the beginning?

Clifford (Jessie’s brother): Tell us where, Pa.

Pa Cassidy: Now nobody asked for any snide remarks from you, young man! What are you doing with them cards?

Clifford: A trick.

Pa Cassidy: Always trying to figure out some skin game! How many times have I told you, young man, that you can’t get something for nothing in this world.

Eddie: Some people can! When a guy can parlay a row boat into half a dozen steamship lines, he’s copping some sort of sneak on the boys!

Clifford: Pa could’ve done it, but he never had a row boat.

There is a lot of talk of how the system is against them, and if they had more, they could accomplish more. Both men are actually trying to do what Pa Cassidy accuses Clifford of; running some scam.

Ma’s Words to Jessie


Jessie watches this discussion from the kitchen and remarks that she and Eddie need to get some money or the future will be the past (referring to her never-working father).

Jessie’s quiet mother struggles to tell her daughter something that she has not been able to before now:

Ma Cassidy: There’s some things I been wantin’ to tell ya. I don’t talk much. Maybe I’m kinda not in the habit anymore.

Jessie: What’s it about?

Ma Cassidy:  You.You and Eddie. What you got and what you want.

     You’re a woman, Jess. You want to have some say about the life you live. A woman’s supposed to lead a man’s life; her man’s life. We’re made that way usually.  A woman’s weakness is supposed to fit into a man’s strength. Her respect pays for the security a man gives her. That’s what most women (want).

     But not you, Jessica, you got strength of your own. You can do things, not just dream about them, like most women.

Jessie:  What are you trying to tell me, Ma?

Ma Cassidy:  Live your life for yourself, Jess. Remember what it was you hated, always remember what it is you want. Get it!  Any way you can! If you have to, get it alone.

Eddie eventually ensures a split from Jessie when he suggests that she divorce him. That would leave her free to marry Hennessey for about six months and then divorce him to get a huge settlement. Then Eddie and Jessie could remarry. A horrified Jessie finally realizes that it will only be schemes with Eddie and she walks forever.

Getting What you Want


Let’s take Ma Cassidy’s words to heart.  Remember and clarify what it is that you really want.  Focus on that thing, hold it in your mind, and then work to get it.  If your first plan doesn’t work, then get another plan, but don’t give up on what you want. Avoid schemes and follow good online business methods.

Dialogue from Mannequin written by Lawrence Hazard


  1. Adrienne says:

    I’ve never been a big fan of old movies myself Patricia but the message is clear.

    I think we all need to think for ourselves and I only wish I’d been this way when I was much younger. I was just taught certain things growing up and took that as how it was suppose to be. Never even had a clue things could be different for me and never gave it a second thought until my life was halfway over.

    Love this message though, thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful week.


    • Patricia Haag says:

      Hi Adrienne – To each her own regarding movies;-)

      I completely understand what you mean about being taught certain things when growing up. Why should the world be different than the way we were taught, right? Here’s to growing in knowledge and wisdom and getting better!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge