MOVIEmeter
Top 5000
Up 418 this week

Mommie Dearest (1981)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  18 September 1981 (USA)
6.6
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.6/10 from 9,548 users  
Reviews: 153 user | 70 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.

Director:

Writers:

(book), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Instant Video

ON DISC

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

list image
a list of 38 titles
created 20 Oct 2011
 
a list of 22 titles
created 05 May 2012
 
a list of 38 titles
created 25 Nov 2012
 
a list of 49 titles
created 23 May 2014
 
a list of 25 titles
created 5 months ago
 

Related Items

Search for "Mommie Dearest" on Amazon.com

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Mommie Dearest (1981)

Mommie Dearest (1981) on IMDb 6.6/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Mommie Dearest.

User Polls

8 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A former child star torments her crippled sister in a decaying Hollywood mansion.

Director: Robert Aldrich
Stars: Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Victor Buono
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

After her cheating husband leaves her, Mildred Pierce proves she can become independent and successful, but cannot seem to win the approval of her spoiled daughter.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott
Strait-Jacket (1964)
Drama | Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

After a 20 year stay at an asylum for a double murder, a mother returns to her estranged daughter where suspicions arise about her behavior.

Director: William Castle
Stars: Joan Crawford, Diane Baker, Leif Erickson
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

In this documentary on the life of 'Joan Crawford', we learn why she should be remembered as the great actress she was, and not only as the "mommie dearest." caricature she has become. ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Fitzgerald
Stars: Anjelica Huston, Diane Baker, Charles Busch
Full Frontal (2002)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  

A day in the life of a group of men and women in Hollywood, in the hours leading up to a friend's birthday party.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Julia Roberts, David Hyde Pierce, David Duchovny
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An aging, reclusive southern belle, plagued by a horrifying family secret, descends into madness after the arrival of a lost relative.

Director: Robert Aldrich
Stars: Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Joseph Cotten
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A housewife with an abusive husband has an affair with a writer.

Director: Frank Perry
Stars: Richard Benjamin, Frank Langella, Carrie Snodgress
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A somewhat romanticized account of the career of the notoriously violent bank robbing couple and their gang.

Director: Arthur Penn
Stars: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard
The Secret Storm (1954–1974)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.5/10 X  

Family secrets and hidden passions are the hallmarks of this dark, moody serial. Set in the fictional community of Woodbridge, New York, The Secret Storm tells the story of the ... See full summary »

Stars: Julie Mannix, Larry Weber, Keith Charles
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  

SURVIVING MOMMIE DEAREST: A documentary based on a one-woman multimedia play written by and starring best-selling author, Christina Crawford. It covers not only 100 years of entertainment ... See full summary »

Directors: Christina Crawford, Jerry Rosenberg
Stars: Christina Crawford, George Riddle, Jerry Rosenberg
Short | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  

Seven stories contained in letters received by the Mother of Perpetual Help Shrine at Baclaran, Phillippines.

Director: Mar S. Torres
Stars: Van De Leon, Lilibeth Vera-Perez, Nenita Jana
Gable and Crawford (Video 2008)
Documentary | Short | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 2/10 X  

The star-crossed affair between the king and queen of Hollywood.

Director: Peter Fitzgerald
Stars: Christina Crawford, Jeanine Basinger, Richard Barrios
Edit

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)
Edit

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 September 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Maman très chère  »

Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

In her 1971 book My Way of Life, Joan Crawford stated: "Of all the actresses, to me, only Faye Dunaway has the talent and the class and the courage it takes to make a real star." See more »

Goofs

When young Christina fixes Mommie Dearest a drink when one of the "uncles" is visiting, the glass is half full of ice when she pours the alcohol. By the time she brings the drink into the room all the ice is gone. See more »

Quotes

Christina: [in character as Antigone] Understand. The first word I ever heard out of any of you was that word, understand. There'll be time enough to understand when I'm old, if I ever am old. Oh, but not now.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in You Again (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Tangerine
Written by Johnny Mercer (as Mercer) & Victor Schertzinger (as Schertzinger)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Searching - entertainingly but in vain - for Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest
16 March 2004 | by (Western New York) – See all my reviews

In Mommie Dearest, we watch Faye Dunaway portray Joan Crawford as portrayed in Crawford's adopted and later disinherited daughter Christina's (necessarily?) one-sided and tendentious memoir. That was less a story than a payback about growing up in a Hollywood hothouse with a headstrong and possibly unhinged star as mother. Where the precise balance lies between truth (obviously, some) and spite owing to being read out of the will is not, or no longer, the point. The point is what justice the movie does to the legendary Crawford - how accurately it reproduces her public façade and private dysfunction (where it's open to skepticism), and how well it evokes the way stars lived and were expected to live under the mid-20th-century studio system (where it fares well).

The movie opens at 4 a.m., the wake-up call for a star operating under the punishing regimen that was then the norm when shooting was underway. Dunaway/Crawford scrubs and steams herself, then closes her pores by plunging her face into rubbing alcohol on the rocks. Then she steps into a limo idling in the dark, where she learns her lines and signs glossies for doting fans. Noblesse oblige, Southern California style.

Crawford had been in movies since the last days of the silents (her first roles, uncredited or as Lucille LeSueur, were in 1925), and had since achieved a blue-and-ivory showplace in Brentwood, two ex-husbands, and entrée to the privileged circle of `Hollywood royalty'. All she wants to round out her life is a baby (or two); Steve Forrest plays an attorney and current paramour who helps her to acquire them, like a pair of occasional tables.

The rest of the movie depicts the ambivalent - almost bipolar - relationship between Joan and Christina (the actual Crawford adopted four children, whom the script cuts to two - just one, really, for son Christopher is seen only a few times tethered to his bed and once again, at the fateful reading of the will). So the plot's main thrust is Christina vs. Joan, and the semi-psychotic episodes that made the movie a cult/camp classic focus on this David and Goliath tug-of-war (`Tina, bring me the axe!' and `What's wire hangers doing in this closet?').

Several episodes, however, weren't witnessed by the skulking, passive-aggressive young Tina (Mara Hobel) or by the wilful and defiant teen-ager and woman she would become (Diana Scarwid, with a growling contralto that brings to mind Joan's adversary Mercedes McCambridge in Johnny Guitar). No little pitcher with big ears was nearby when Joan, in gingham apron and high-heeled white work shoes, scrubs the floor and bellows to the maid `I'm not mad at you, I'm mad at the dirt' or when, in one of Dunaway's rip-the-envelope-open scenes, emasculates the entire board of directors of Pepsico.

Dunaway's impersonation of Crawford is in many ways unforgettably overripe (and her performance been received as both extraordinary and execrable; she herself is on record as regretting that she did the movie at all). Yet despite an at times almost uncanny resemblance provided by makeup and costume, we seldom forget it's Dunaway on camera. The specific Crawford qualities that gave her unparalleled longevity in Hollywood elude Dunaway - they aren't quite there. (Under all the honeyed diction there's little of the tough broad from east Texas.) Maybe Dunaway was right in doing Crawford her own way, rather than resorting to mimicry. But she - and the script - lose too much of her prototype.

The script hews to known chronology in only the most slapdash way. There's a signpost at the beginning - Ice Follies of 1939 (why not the better known and just plain better The Women of the same year?) - and another at the time of her Academy-Award performance in Mildred Pierce (1945). But Crawford's subsequent vehicles, many of them hits, are ignored - and much of Mommie Dearest suggests she was a washed-up has-been. So it's never clear what juncture of her career she's reached - the late '40s and early '50s when she was still going strong, the Grand-Guignol '60s or, near the end, the '70s (Trog and TV)? It's a crucial lapse of basic narrative skills.

But Mommie Dearest eschews many of those skills, seemingly by choice. No longer, as in the movies Crawford made famous, does scene unfold into scene, does motivation shape the story line. True, real life seldom observes the dramatic unities, but events here come so haphazardly that they're baffling. A triumph like winning the Oscar or the humiliation of being fired from MGM by Louis B. Mayer (Howard Da Silva in a memorable cameo) both lead straight into full-tilt rampages. Do they occur the same day, or weeks or months later? The time-line's too shaky to tell. Nor do the drastic mood-swings ever get explained (maybe they can't be explained), though Crawford's ever-present flask of vodka threads through the movie more as a colorful eccentricity than a central fact of her life.

And in expressing this instability, Dunaway plucks not from Crawford's roles but from Gloria Swanson in the last, loony half of Sunset Blvd. Her eyes turn inward while fleeting emotions flicker across her face, hinting at something dreadful dredged up from her psyche. Yet Crawford held on to her star power in a ruthless industry for close to four decades, then snagged Pepsi-Cola CEO Alfred Steele and proved to be a savvy businesswoman. Nothing in Mommie Dearest accounts for those facts, which makes its accounting practices a little bit suspect. It's not a very good movie, but, thanks to Dunaway and her subject, mesmerizing nonetheless.


44 of 71 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Do you think Joan knew that her daughter was going to write the book? onemanbond
What did she put on the ice? cdbacon6
Faye Dunaway wrong for the part bcstoneb444
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
Discuss Mommie Dearest (1981) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?