Joan Crawford’s second-to-last big-screen appearance — Trog would be the final movie she made — Berserk! posits a world where the ageless Ms. Crawford rules a circus and of course sleeps with the hottest performer in the show. Is she in her late forties? Fifties? Perhaps even nearing sixty? Who can say and who really cares, as the world of Joan’s late career films are all completely wonderful and I for one wish that I lived within them instead of my own reality.
Joan is Monica Rivers, who owns a traveling circus along with business manager Dorando (Michael Gough). Gaspar the Great is killed when his tightrope breaks. The police get involved but nothing comes of it. Did she kill him? Will she also kill her business partner? Will she hook up with the attractive new tightrope walker (Ty Hardin, who after acting formed the anti-tax group the Arizona Patriots that quickly became an anti-semetic, anti-black and anti-immigrant group that was amassing weapons and threatening the lives of Arizona politicians)? Maybe. Maybe. And yes, she totally will.
Monica’s daughter has been expelled from school, which oddly feels like a page out of Mommie Dearest, but art imitates life as they say. She’s played by Judy Geeson right before she became a star in To Sir, With Love, even if producer Herman Cohen wanted Christina Crawford.
There’s also the matter of a younger and some would say more attractive — look, I love Joan but Diana Dors (Nothing but the Night, From Beyond the Grave) is the kind of woman you ruin your life for — girl trying to get with Joan’s boy. She ends up sawed in half for real.
The end of this goes all The Bad Seed on us, with an electrical wire taking out the evil that bad parenting has created.
Director Jim O’Connolly would later make The Valley of Gwangi and Tower of Evil, but neither of those movies have Joan Crawford wearing Edith Head-designed sheer hose and a majorette uniform in them, do they? You know how much Joan cared about this movie? She got up early to make breakfast for the crew every day.