Johnny Farrell is a gambling cheat who turns straight to work for an unsettling casino owner Ballin Mundson. But things take a turn for Johnny as his alluring ex-lover appears as Mundson's wife, and Mundson's machinations begin to unravel.
A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
A writer meets a young socialite on board a train. The two fall in love and are married soon after, but her obsessive love for him threatens to be the undoing of both them and everyone else around them.
Years after her aunt was murdered in her home, a young woman moves back into the house with her new husband. However, he has a secret that he will do anything to protect, even if it means driving his wife insane.
Mildred Pierce dotes on her daughters while husband Bert looks to Maggie Binderhof for affection. They separate leaving Mildred to raise the girls on her own. Elder daughter Veda goads her mother about their lack of money and in response Mildred proposes opening a small restaurant. Realtor Wally Fay advises her while making numerous rebuffed passes and introduces her to Monte Baragon whose property becomes the first of a chain of restaurants. Mildred has an affair with Monte. Meanwhile, money-hungry Veda pretends to be pregnant by wealthy Ted Forrester in order to bilk his family of $10,000. Mildred tears up the check, is slapped by Veda, and orders her daughter to leave. After time away, Mildred returns to find Veda singing in a cheap club. Veda will return only if Mildred promises luxury, so Mildred agrees to marry Monte in exchange for a third of her businesses. It soon becomes clear that something is going on between Veda and Monte. Mildred learns of this only after Monte has sold... Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The story that unfolds in Mildred Pierce is complicated and dark, and at its darkest, is a chilling portrait of a mother so devoted to her children (well, child, really) that she would go to any and all lengths for them. Although some of the situations and scenes suffer from the passage of time (the modern audience in the cinema, myself included, couldn't help laughing at some of the more ludicrous things said/done), the film as a whole worked, mostly on the strength of the performances.
Joan Crawford won her only Oscar for her role, and it was well-deserved--she held the film together with a confident performance that ranged from charming and sassy, to desperate and almost frightening. The final scenes of the film, especially, captured Mildred at her most pathetic, and Crawford looked utterly despondent in the telephone scene. Ann Blyth is utterly convincing as the spoilt, deeply disturbed Veda, narcissistic and unrelentingly manipulative of her mother. And the best supporting performance had to come from Eve Arden, who played Mildred's friend Ida--Arden saunters across the screen, stealing scenes left and right, before disappearing from view again. She was excellent!
The film is well worth the watch--not brilliant, but definitely very good. I also like the story-telling technique and the direction (the director made quite clever and frequent use of shadows and mirrors), and it's good that the darkness and melodrama was frequently mitigated by the well-written dialogue. 8/10.
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