Joan Leslie in The Hard Way

For the want of a graduation dress, a ruthless stage sister was born.  Hard to believe, but the Hard Way was the only film for which Ida Lupino won a major US award– the New York Film Critics’ best actress for 1943.  In a role rejected by Bette Davis, and a role Olivia De Havilland thought she’d get, Lupino is great as the tough, ambitious schemer who pushes her poor, dress-less little sister Joan Leslie clear out of the little mill town Green Hill and upward toward to stardom. 

Lupino gets her there through a convenient marriage to the vaudevillian JackCarson, and by scheming to oust the vulnerable Broadway star Gladys Georgefrom her starring role. The odyssey ends as it began, with a dress in the window. Turns out this is a neat piece of real-life irony for the Joan Leslie, because after her movie career waned, Leslie embarked on a fashion career, designing the highly successful and appropriately named Joan Leslie brand of fashions.  Leslie once said that the Hard Way was loosely based on Ginger Rogers’ early life but Rogers turned it down as “an impossible plot”.  However after seeing the finished product, Rogers said to Leslie, “Why, it could have been my life!”

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5 thoughts on “Joan Leslie in The Hard Way

  1. I love Joan Leslie in anything especially in Yankee Doodle Dandy and The Hard Way. The Hard Way is one of my favorite films.

    Lupino is certainly sinister in this film but even with all that manipulation of her “sister” I wind up feeling sorry for her in the end. Lupino had the talent to show vulnerability in many of her roles and to do it here in a really villainous role shows what a special actress she was.

    The Carson/Morgan duo did many films. Carson is one of my favorites. Dennis Morgan does have a great line in this film when Lupino’s character is not in one scene. He says, “what did you do chloroform her?” Just a real funny line.

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    • Yes agreed on everything, great description of Lupino, not easy to play a sympathetic villain, Carson & Morgan were always fun had that great timing perfected in comedy, and Carson is so good here

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  2. Carson was a special guy. Sometimes he actually took a month out of the year to become a clown in a circus. His performance in The Strawberry Blonde is one of my favorites. I also loved him with Jane Wyman. They paired many times with Larceny Inc. the EG Robinson gangster spoof being one of my favorites. Carson and Wyman also did a picture with Alan Hale called Make Your Own Bed. I think it was the first film he actually got to play the lead. There is also a real good film noir musical where Jack plays in a band called Blues In The Night.

    It is so sad that he was cut down so young in life. I read that his funeral was well attended. Carson was really beloved by his fellow actors and the whole film community. My favorite film of his will always be Roughly Speaking with Roz Russell. Jack doesn’t enter until the second part of the film. The film just takes off the minute he enters. It is one of those films that drags a little bit in the beginning so you have to stick with it. Oh….. I will stop now because I could go on and on about Jack Carson. I wish somebody would do a book about him.

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