Sunday, September 18, 2022

This is Joan Collins, on TCM

Sure, there was conspicuous consumption in the 1980s (and it was great), but it was also a good decade for comebacks. Tina Turner and Chaka Khan had some of their biggest hits in the decade, while Joan Collins and Linda Evans became two of the era’s biggest TV stars on Dynasty. Collins played the femme fatale villain, so she was the more popular one. Dame Joan Collins looks back on her life and career in Clare Beavan’s BBC-produced This is Joan Collins, which premieres Tuesday on TCM.

If you hadn’t heard before, she was married a few times. Reading the narration drawn from her memoirs, Collins describes all her marriages quite frankly, including the first, which might have been the worst. Or maybe that was the fourth, Peter Holm, the faded Swedish pop star, who dragged her through the tabloids during their divorce proceedings.

Collins made some relatively big films while under contract to Fox, but by the 1960s, she was largely doing television guest spots. Still, for a lot of us, her pinnacle role came as Edith Keeler on the classic
Star Trek episode “The City on the Edge of Forever.” Seriously though, when she mistakenly refers to “Dr. Spock,” it is a major groaner moment.

Somehow, Collins and Beavan overlook her appearances as The Siren in the Westverse
Batman, but she talks at surprising length about Bert I. Gordon’s Empire of the Ants, which is a major bonus. Of course, Dynasty is discussed in detail, for obvious reasons. Thanks to Collins, it was a huge hit that came to represent the Eighties. Several times, Collins asserts the greatness of the 1980s, which is absolutely correct.

As you would expect,
This is Joan Collins makes a good companion piece to the Jackie Collins doc Lady Boss. There is a lot of fun pop culture nostalgia. Yet, non-fans should gain a fresh appreciation for Collins from Beavan’s profile. She definitely did things her way and made no apology to the press, which sought to sell papers off her, while simultaneously judging her.

Rest assured, Collins dishes plenty. Her marriages and lovers, the softcore movies she made based on her sister’s novels, and the
Playboy pictorial are all in here. Yet, they also touch on her stage work and her DBE. Why is it everyone always includes the “Dame” Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, but not necessarily with Collins? Maybe because she is a UK Conservative (one thing Beavan leaves out). Regardless, there is more than enough nostalgia and TCM-appropriate film clips to recommend This is Joan Collins when it airs Tuesday (9/18) on the network (it also already streams on Brit Box).