Joan Crawford has another of her star-sized roles….Playing a musical comedy actress in the throes of rehearsal and in love with a blind pianist, she is vivid and irritable, volcanic and feminine. She dances; she pretends to sing; she graciously permits her wide mouth and snappish eyes to be photographed in Technicolor….Here is Joan Crawford all over the screen, in command, in love and in color, a real movie star in what amounts to a carefully produced one-woman show. Miss Crawford’s acting is sheer and colorful as a painted arrow, aimed straight at the sensibilities of her particular fans.
A.W. in the New York Times
(October 13, 1953)
In “Torch Song,”Joan Crawford’s obvious charms are enhanced by Technicolor, and she wears a profusion of gowns and accessories likely to dazzle designers and debutantes while singing and dancing the numbers of a bulging musical comedy book. Miss Crawford, it is only fair to state, never looked lovelier, and it might be indicated also that “Torch Song” is not precisely a bright new kind of story. Miss Crawford’s desperate need for love is the essence of the drama here, a film problem, it would appear, that she has encountered before.
The lady is, in this case, a Broadway star who arrived at her zenith the hard way and is ruthless in maintaining that position during rehearsals of a new show to the extent of giving her associates, backstage and elsewhere, assorted megrims.
At this point, however, Michael Wilding, a blind pianist, arrives on the scene as her arranger-accompanist to replace a predecessor who has been forced to flee her tantrums. The versatile Mr. Wilding, a drama critics before the war in which he lost his sight, also is secretly in love with Miss Crawford and, as a philosopher and psychologist of sorts, is a great hand at needling his lady fair. She finally responds by recognizing that she not only loves but needs him.
It should be pointed out that the aforementioned essentials do not include some sparkling, contemporary lines contributed by John Michael Hayes and Jan Lustig, the scenarists, as well as good renditions of the Jack Lawrence-Walter Gross tune, “Tenderly”; the Kermit Goell-Fred Spielman number titled “You Won’t Forget Me” and a production song and dance scene featuring “Two Faced Woman” by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz.
• Joan’s return to MGM after 10 years.
• In production for 18 days in June 1953.
• Joan was paid $125, 000 for the film, in 83 installments for tax purposes.