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.

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Cast

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

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

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Meet the biggest MOTHER of them all! See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

25 September 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Maman très chère  »

Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The pressbook for the film goes into detail about several of the scenes, including one sequence that was cut from the film. Apparently they filmed an entire sequence where young Christina runs away from home and Joan goes out looking for her in her car. The classic cars that were necessary for the film caused a big stir in the neighborhood where the scene was filmed, and one of the people stopped in traffic so as not to ruin the scene was Barbra Streisand, who apparently spent time hanging out with Faye Dunaway between takes. See more »

Goofs

When Joan and Greg are walking on the beach talking about adopting, her orange scarf changes position under her collar to untucked between shots. See more »

Quotes

Mr. Dodd: My daughter Ellen would love to have your signature, Miss Crawford.
Joan Crawford: Of course!
[signs menu]
Louis B. Mayer: You see? She didn't ask for L.B. Mayer's signature!
Joan Crawford: That's because she's not as smart as her father. She doesn't know that you are King!
Louis B. Mayer: [Joan gets up to leave] Where are you going? Come join us, we're having dinner! You're one of the reasons bankers love Metro.
Joan Crawford: No, thank you, L.B., but our table is ready.
Louis B. Mayer: I insist.
[Joan sits]
Louis B. Mayer: You're aces, Joanie!
[...]
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Soundtracks

Away in a Manger
(uncredited)
Written by William J. Kirkpatrick
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

How Bizarre
9 January 2010 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Some of the behavior of the real Joan Crawford (Lucille LeSueur) was symptomatic of what we nowadays refer to as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a mindset that fixates on ultra-cleanliness and perfection. Such bizarre behavior as needlessly scrubbing clean floors and clean hands helps reduce one's fears and anxieties. Over-reaction to minor problems is one result. There's a tendency to expect oneself and others to be perfect. If what is being judged is not perfect, then the OCD mindset perceives it to be the opposite of perfection; that is, ruin. There's no in-between.

Character behavior that is weird to begin with, combined with poor film direction, and an exaggerated, over-the-top performance by Faye Dunaway results in plot sequences that are campy and outlandish, thus robbing the story of subtle truths that may be buried under all that bombast.

Excise the rose garden sequence, the wire-hangers/bathroom cleaning sequence, and several other embarrassing parts, and we "might" have a film that could be taken seriously. But, of course, then we couldn't laugh at it. And I do think the film, as is, is good for some laughs.

Having a film protagonist who is such a blatant villain with no character arc is unusual, and helps make this film so bizarre. At least Godzilla, and the great white shark in Jaws, could be forgiven their cruelty, given their inability to be human.

Apart from the bizarre main character in "Mommie Dearest", the film's plot does not flow well. The dialogue also is bizarre and lacks subtext. "Helga, I'm not mad at you, I'm mad at the dirt", says Joan as she spots dirt hiding under a potted plant. And as an out-of-control, angry Joan proceeds to punish a tree in her rose garden, in frustration with Louis B. Mayer, she yells to Christina: "Bring me the ax". How can the viewer not laugh?

Lucille LeSueur undoubtedly was an ambitious woman, a hard worker, and had both genuine talent and a healthy ego. But her human relations with others, especially her adopted daughter, were disasters. We may never know the extent to which "Mommie Dearest" mirrors the real Joan Crawford, or is merely a gross exaggeration by a vengeful "heirless" heir.

Regardless, Joan Crawford left us some terrific films. She had a memorable, unique personality, and will remain a stunning Hollywood legend for as long as Hollywood exists.


12 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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What did she put on the ice? cdbacon6
Faye Dunaway wrong for the part bcstoneb444
Christopher larassilveira
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
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