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|Index||234 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After establishing herself as a star in Hollywood in the 1930's with
films like "Grand Hotel" "Rain" and "Sadie McKee" Joan Crawford began
to see her career waning by the early 1940's and she was released by
MGM. She signed with Warner Bros. and in 1945 starred in what could
possibly be her best film - "Mildred Pierce" in which she won the Oscar
for "Best Actress" playing a divorced mother who stops at nothing to
provide for her family. The film also includes an outstanding
supporting cast including Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, Eve Arden and Ann
Blyth as "every mother's nightmare" of a daughter.
Crawford's performance skillfully maneuvers back and forth through the film between the weak, naive mother who refuses to think ill of her spoiled rotten daughter and the hard driven businesswoman who suspects any and everyone, especially the men that she deals with because they have other intentions when they offer up a helping hand to her. Mildred immediately recognizes the men's motives but stubbornly turns a blind eye to her own daughter's selfish demands. The rest of the cast puts in solid performances as well. Jack Carson as the savvy businessman who loves Mildred almost as much as he loves money and tries in vain to win her affections. Zachary Scott as the idle, scheming playboy, who thumbs his nose at the working class and Mildred, behind her back, but doesn't turn down a handout from her. Eve Arden as Mildred's clever best friend and business associate who isn't afraid to speak her mind about Mildred's greedy daughter but is powerless to convince her to put her foot down - and Ann Blyth as Veda, certainly cannot be ignored. She delivers a memorable performance as Mildred's spoiled and uncontrollable offspring.
Directed by Michael Curtiz (Casablanca) and musical score by Max Steiner (Gone with the Wind) "Mildred Pierce" is one of Joan Crawford's finest films.
First things first. Bruce Bennett who plays Mildred's suffering
ex-husband turned 100 this past May! Happy belated. (D:02/24/2007)
One of many movies I have checked out from the library and I have to admit,given the title,it sounded like it would be boring. Not so. I have never actually watched a Joan Crawford starring vehicle but this turns out to be nothing like I assumed it would be. Just like books ladies & gentlemen,never judge a DVD/VHS movie by it's cover!
In the beginning of this film,rich but throwing away his money Monte' Bergon,Mildred's current husband,is shot point blank four times. We "think" we know exactly who did it but there in lies the underlying truth we don't see until the end. Yes,I'm being purposely vague,because I think it best for those who read this to watch from the beginning without really knowing what to expect.
The characters in this range from somewhat likable to downright cruel. Mildred's oldest daughter Veda is being spoiled rotten by her mother and her husband Bert can't make her see that. Veda is selfish,stubborn and completely unappreciative of her mother's efforts. Mildred,no matter how abusive her daughter is,still wont give up on her!
Bert on the other hand is keeping company with a "neighbor" lady. Daughter Kay is a tom-boy and like most kids,in her own world. The story is not just of "who killed Mildred's husband?" but also showing how independent Mildred becomes once separated from her husband. Although despite making a success out of a restaurant and opening a chain of them,the money is mostly for the snotty Veda.
The revelation at the end of this movie I will say "is" surprising and for the time,shocking.
Joan Crawford won the Academy award for this performance and deservedly so. Along with this movie,on the DVD's "flipside",is the Turner Classic Movies documentary about the real Joan Crawford.
If you know very little about her besides the over-acted,"Mommie Dearest" from 1980,then watch this after "Mildred Pierce". It's a real eye -opener to a very competent actress. (END)
By the year 1945, Joan Crawford had a long career in films and was beginning to fad out of the Hollywood Big Screen. Many other famous actresses were being considered for this role as Mildred Pierce. However, Joan Crawford called the Producer of this film, Jerry Wald almost everyday for his consideration; the reason being she knew this was the part for her, because of the fact that Joan Crawford in real life was just like Mildred Pierce. After many generations have viewed this film, everyone knows that Joan was destined to play this role and win an Oscar for her wonderful performance. Jack Carson,(Wally Fay),"Cat On A Hot Tine Roof",58 gave an outstanding supporting role along with Zachary Scott,(Monte Beragon),"The Mask of Dimitrios",'44. Monte Beragon was a very dark and sinister character and Zachary Scott was perfect for his role. This is truly a great film Classic which will be enjoyed for many generations to view and review !
No amount of spanking would have converted Veda into a sweet little
girl like her sister. It would simply have driven her ambition
underground for a while and converted her contempt for her mother into
an active hatred.
The mother's own feeling that life had let her down, had failed to live up to her expectations, and somehow cheated her left her wide open to manipulation by Veda.
In order to spank Veda, the mother would have had to start by spanking herself for her own resentments against life.
The Mildred-Veda relationship is contrasted with the Ida, the brassy realist, and the "good" daughter, the cheerful tomboy with the scratched and dirty knees.
When her husband is found murdered, the police pick up Mildred's
ex-husband Bert, who doesn't deny that he had done the crime even if he
doesn't admit it. Mildred is sure that Bert didn't do it as he is far
too mild mannered. She tells the police the story of their marriage
where Bert left her alone with two children the tomboyish Kay and the
materialistic Veda; how she started to work in a restaurant before
eventually being able to open up her own place and making the money
that she needed to give Veda everything she wants out of life.
Despite knowing that it is one of Joan Crawford's better films I didn't know a great deal about it and decided to make good use of Christmas television by catching up on older films that I had never gotten round to seeing. The film starts many years into the main story, using a murder to trigger a flashback into a rather melodramatic story where Mildred's maternal instincts are directed towards the pursuit of money for her demanding daughter Veda. It is all a bit soapy and melodramatic but it is still an enjoyable story featuring an emotional battle between mother and daughter that affects all aspects of her life. It is delivered with some wit but mostly it is quite dramatic in a human sort of way I hold back from saying "melodrama" again because normally that implies an average story to me but it did work here. What didn't totally work was the framing of the story with the murder subplot; it works at the end once it gets tied in but at the start it didn't make a great deal of sense and the story seemed irrelevant at the start.
Happily this is a minor problem because the story does get pretty engaging as it goes. This sort of film is typical Crawford territory and she is very good here building from a gentle, loving mother to a woman turned hard by her treatment by others. Equally as good is Blyth's Veda, she is very good in the second half of the film although she is too obvious at the start, meaning that I did wonder why everyone seemed so blind to her faults. Arden is almost a cameo but her sharp wit does provide some relief from the soap in an effective way meanwhile Carson, Scott and Bennett are all pretty good in the male roles for a variety of reasons.
Overall this is an enjoyable drama that is well told with a good central character and good performances. Time has given it a high reputation thanks to Crawford and I wasn't disappointed with it. Well worth a watch for a solid piece of story telling albeit with a bit of soapy melodrama in there too.
What can be said? This movie defined Joan's career. Never again would she be given a better script, or deliver a better performance. Now some of you might think "Straitjacket" is a close second, but I beg to differ. Whether you love her or hate her, she's a force to be reckoned with in this film, and everything comes together in this film. From the acting, directing, sets, costumes, it's all first rate. I get hooked from the very opening, (although I could do without her one daughter dying.) Eve Arden is always a delight, but unfortunately she doesn't have much to do except to add some comic relief as she usually does. It's too bad that Ann Blythe didn't do more movies. She's so terribly evil, that I love her! On a side note, the quality of the DVD is outstanding and adds to the enjoyment of watching this film.
I wrote down my impressions ten years ago:
Saw it for the third time and I could keep watching it forever. It is one of the greatest ever made. Visually gorgeous. The dialogue is smart, real. Joan Crawford is priceless. Everything works. This could have been a soap opera, but it is far from it. It is touching, amusing and always interesting. It never sags or lags. The only flaw is the rather pointless death of one of the daughters. The movie has some didactic elements (don't spoil your children), but it is far from being just a sermon. There are no villains. The writer sees everyone as a human being. These are real people, complex, contradictory. Yet the complexity isn't overdone. The movie remains light and never sinks into bathos. I don't know what it is about Joan Crawford that thrills me so much. She is a damn good actress. She knows just the right balance between acting a character and being one. Gone are the days of stylish acting like hers.
My views are not set in concrete. I can't believe I liked Love Story (1970) only a few years ago! In retrospect it seems shockingly classist, with the girl having to conveniently shuffle off her mortal coil to prevent inter-class miscegenation. Hollywood is reactionary when it comes to racial and class miscegenation (and many other things), and one must watch out for these cryptic messages that masquerade as tragedy. Is Mildred Pierce a tragedy, because she is a working woman? Is the message, that working women are up to no good?
Mildred Pierce is one of my all time favorite films. The actors were all brilliant and the plot was cunning. The most interesting thing about this movie, however, is that is it so drastically different from the novel that it was based on. The Hayes Code at its finest, I suppose! It is remarkable how many changes were made simply because of the enforcement of the code. I highly recommend reading the book as well as viewing this incredible film-noir!
Mildred Pierce is one of the best films ever made. The story is fast paced and full of drama. Joan Crawford (drama queen/dragon lady) will always be remembered for the way she portrayed this character. But Jack Carson and Eve Arden steal the show. Their comic timing and quick wit can easily surpass anyone in today's cinema. Also, Ann Blyth (the only cast member still living today) makes Alexis Carrington and Erica Kane look like Princess Di and Mother Theresa.
Superb film noir with Crawford sacrificing everything for her witch of a
daughter Ann Blyth. Crawford won as Oscar for her acting and it's easy to
see why--she downplays everything pulls it off quite nicely. Excellent
direction, GREAT dialogue, good looking (the beach house in particular), and
a strong supporting cast (especially Eve Arden--she steals every scene she's
Don't miss this one!
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