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Mommie Dearest (1981)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  18 September 1981 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 9,974 users  
Reviews: 159 user | 71 critic

Mommie Dearest, best selling memoir, turned motion picture, depicts the abusive and traumatic adoptive upbringing of Christina Crawford at the hands of her mother...screen queen Joan Crawford.



(book), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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9 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Howard Da Silva ...
Mara Hobel ...
Harry Goz ...
Michael Edwards ...
Joe Abdullah ...
Gary Allen ...
Selma Archerd ...
Adrian Aron ...
Wedding Guest
Christopher Crawford (adult)


Based on the book about Joan Crawford, one of the great Hollywood actresses of our time, written by her adopted daughter Christina Crawford. Joan decides to adopt children of her own to fill a void in her life. Yet, her problems with alcohol, men, and the pressures of show business get in the way of her personal life, turning her into a mentally abusive wreck seen through the eyes of Christina and her brother Christopher, who unwillingly bore the burden of life that was unseen behind the closed doors of "The Most Beautiful House in Brentwood." Written by Geoffrey A. Middleton <gamidd01@morehead-st.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


To my darling Christina, with love...Mommie Dearest See more »


Biography | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

18 September 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Maman très chère  »

Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Only one of Joan Crawford's four marriages is portrayed in this movie, that to Alfred Steele, her last one, which went from 14 January 1956 to 6 April 1959 (ending with his passing). See more »


Joan Crawford was not "fired" by MGM. She paid the company to be released from her contract, and two days later signed with Warner Bros. See more »


Christina Crawford: My babies! Someone stole both my babies!
Joan Crawford: That's good, darling. They were thoughtless, selfish, spoiled children. Now they won't wake you up when you need your rest.
See more »


Referenced in Scream Queens: Mommie Dearest (2015) See more »


June In January
Written by Ralph Rainger (as Rainger) & Leo Robin (as Robin)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Drama? Maybe... The world's funniest comedy? Yep!
17 April 2002 | by (Cincinnati, OH) – See all my reviews

Oh Lord, Here it comes..... This is the big one. Never before has there been (and probably never will there be again) a camp monstrosity as huge as this. An over-the-top "true story" about Christina Crawford being adopted, raised and tormented by the legendary film star Joan Crawford, the film is an amazing exercise in excess. Virtually every line in the film is a quotable hoot (and legions of people can almost recite the script!) It is an overabundance of comedic riches. It's almost impossible to pick a favorite scene. First, though it is likely that certain aspects of this film have a seed of truth, there is no way that this is an authentic film biography.......NO WAY. So, while a few incidents are loosely derived from fact, most of it is guilt-free hilarity. Christina's book was striking, but contained nothing as wild and vicious as this film presents. And it's entirely probable that some of Christina's memories were exaggerated by childhood perspective (although there's no denying that her mother was an obsessive, neurotic, steamroller of a woman.) Even Tina explained, in her book, certain aspects of the bad behavior which shed some light on Joan's actions. None of that is presented here. For example, the infamous rare meat scene...the film doesn't disclose that Joan paid high black market prices for the beef (during wartime rationing) and was appalled that Tina turned her nose up at it and wasted it. Also, the violent night raid scene is actually a compilation of two different occasions, etc.... The film tries to maximize and sensationalize everything and over-do everything to the point where it turns comic. Dunaway (who has, herself, described her mesmerizing and ferocious performance as "Kabuki") is beyond fascinating to watch. She imbues the role with an intense, stunning magnetism which blows everyone else off the screen. It's amazing that the sets were left intact! Despite an explosive, unforgettable performance, Faye actually looks almost nothing like the real Joan Crawford. Her eyes are not nearly large enough and nothing is done to make them appear so, her eyebrows are ridiculous, her chest is not as pronounced as Joan made hers and her hair is almost never the way the real Joan wore it! And both women have HIGHLY unique voices, but which are not alike at all. Still, she radiates all the necessary star quality for the role. Anne Bancroft would have LOOKED the part more, but who knows what the film would have been like? Better? Duller? It certainly could not have been wilder! Highlights of the Faye Dunaway circus act include: the legendary cold cream-faced night raid with the iconic screech, "No Wire Hangers!", her tirade with the scissors when she catches Tina mocking her, her showdown with the boarding school principal, the resultant wrestling match with Tina back home and the magnificent face-off with the Pepsi Board of Directors. It would be impossible to list the many quotes which make this film required viewing (only the surface has been scratched in the Memorable Quotes section.) "I fought worse monsters than you for years in Hollywood. I know how to win the hard way" immediately followed by "Don't F*CK with me fellas!! This ain't my first time at the rodeo", isn't a bad start. Too hilarious! Young Hobel really holds her own as Tina and though Scarwid is less successful as grown Tina, she still gets in a few good licks. In any case, the film has provided untold hours of enjoyment and allowed for some instant bonding whenever people start spouting off the hilarious lines. WHEN is someone going to adapt this into a stage show?!

43 of 72 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
What did she put on the ice? cdbacon6
Faye Dunaway wrong for the part bcstoneb444
Do you think Joan knew that her daughter was going to write the book? onemanbond
I think Christina's story checks out. And there is proof. j-s-inbrewer
Why Did everyone dislike the movie so much? Kylkoog
If Faye wanted to make alot of $$$ cubkisser66
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