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.
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 <email@example.com>
With those broad shoulders, those wall-to-wall eyebrows, that steely look on her face, and wrapped in those expensive clothes, the inimitable Joan Crawford exudes glamour and resolve as famed Mildred Pierce, housewife turned businesswoman, in this Michael Curtiz-directed film, part mystery, part melodrama.
The film's story, told in flashbacks, begins with mystery, and it is helped along by terrific B&W lighting. Most of the rest of the story is sheer melodrama, with talky dialogue that erupts from confrontations between various characters. The most important confrontations occur between Mildred and her ungrateful, scheming daughter Veda, who requires tons of money to be happy. As the story moves along, Mildred buys and successfully operates a restaurant, but it's not enough to win approval from her odious daughter. Mildred's love for Veda is deep. But Mildred, we learn, is also a take-charge woman who won't take any guff from anyone, at least from caddy suitors or prospective in-laws.
It's a great story. And in addition to the topnotch cinematography, the film has great production design, costumes, and editing. We're also treated to some pleasantly nostalgic music from the 1940s. Crawford gets good support performances from Ann Blyth, Eve Arden, and Jack Carson. I also liked Butterfly McQueen, the little lady with the high-pitched voice who plays Mildred's maid.
I suspect this film would have been worthy of praise, even with someone else playing the title character; the film is that good. But no other actress would have had the stage presence of the impressive Joan Crawford. It's mostly because of her that "Mildred Pierce" will be remembered and loved, for generations to come. It's also partly because of "Mildred Pierce" that Joan Crawford will be admired as a Hollywood legend, for generations to come.
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