The abusive and traumatic adoptive upbringing of Christina Crawford at the hands of her mother, screen queen Joan Crawford, is depicted.



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9 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mara Hobel ...
Harry Goz ...
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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The meanest mother of them all... See more »


Biography | Drama


R | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

25 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


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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Part of a cycle of movies made during the mid-to-late 1970s about Tinseltown, Old Hollywood and its Golden Age including the Silent Film era. The pictures include Fedora (1978), Inserts (1975), Valentino (1977), Nickelodeon (1976), Silent Movie (1976), The Wild Party (1975), The Last Tycoon (1976), Hearts of the West (1975), The Day of the Locust (1975), The World's Greatest Lover (1977), Gable and Lombard (1976), Goodbye, Norma Jean (1976), Bud and Lou (1978), and W.C. Fields and Me (1976). Bogie (1980) and Mommie Dearest (1981) would soon follow as well. See more »


In the bathroom cleaning scene, Joan has two rags in her hand. She pitches one to the floor, which Tina clearly does not pick up. Then Joan leans down to scrub the floor, and suddenly Christina has a rag in her hand. See more »


Joan Crawford: The sword cuts both ways
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Referenced in High Society: The Family Jewels (1996) See more »


Minuet in F (from Water Music)
Written by George Frideric Handel
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

You Will Never See Mildred Pierce The Same
20 September 2015 | by (Sword Of The Protector) – See all my reviews

Spoilers Ahead:

Studios manage their stars public images like gardeners do gardens. After watching this movie, based on Christine Crawford's scathing book, the plot of Mildred Pierce will unfold to you. I gave that classic a ten because I hold that a film should be judged on its merits alone. Here the movie opens with Joan's preparation for going to the studio with vanity the level that would be commensurate with an audience with the Deity. It has to be seen to be believed. The movie starts as her career is at zenith and follows the downslope with the exception being her Oscar for Mildred Pierce. Louis Mayer, while calling her 'Hollywood royalty' is gently handing her hat to her and opening the door out of MGM. Her infamous clean obsession is a wonderful depiction of the anal retentive personality. Watch what is was to be her maid or housekeeper, those of you not familiar with Freud, suffice to say it is not the floor that is dirty here. Joan is constantly trying to remove dirt from her surroundings never grasping it is an existential metaphor for her soul. The adopting of the children is delineated as a calculated public relations stunt. When she first proffers it, walking on the beach with Forrest, even he grasps its real purpose. As her career begins to decline, her cruelty to both children increases proportionately. I found this part completely logical and believable.

Dunaway was mocked for overacting mainly for the 'no wire hangers' with her face covered with an inch of cold cream looking like an undead fashion model. True, there are scenes where she goes over the top. Yet, remember she is all alone here. Forrest is more of a cameo role; Dunaway has to carry the entire movie upon her shoulders. With the exception of her bush clipping from Hell, Wire Hangers and the tackle and strangle Christina scene in front of Barbara the magazine writer, Dunaway does well. A few bad scenes do not equal a bad performance. The movie follows her later life, the TV career, the slasher pictures of the 50s and her marriage to the Pepsi president. This is my favorite scene where the Pepsi board, after her husband's death, tries to gently but firmly push her out. Watch Dunaway's best scene in film,"Wait until I come out publicly against your product, see how much you sell; don't F with me boys!!" That was Joan Crawford, she nails her, this scene is her best I have ever seen.

As a philosopher, trying to discern true from false here, I tend to believe Christina's version. I do think some of Christina's misbehavior that resulted in expulsion is downplayed and whitewashed over. Yet, think of the plot of Mildred Pierce: a saintly mother who slaves and toils for the most evil daughter in the history of cinema, Veda. I find this consanguinity a trifle too coincidental for my taste. It is clear the studio is trying to dispel the plethora of rumors surrounding their star and rehabilitate her by the role. Isn't it fascinating how Mildred's character is an otherworldly saintly paragon of nobility suffering for her Satanic daughter? Think of Christina's version of Joan Crawford when you watch it over. It is clear somebody is doing some damage control with Crawford's ruined image. Mildred Pierce will always be a legendary classic but, trust me, watch this movie and you will watch it with brand new eyes. Dunaway is a gifted actress; she was maligned for a few bad scenes here but on the whole she does an excellent job with an unsympathetic role. I admired her bravery in taking the role.

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She's a natural Miss Crawford spice-18
Filming Locations centipede84
Christopher larassilveira
I think Christina's story checks out. And there is proof. j-s-inbrewer
Anyone know about the house this was filmed in? andrenkrystel
Joan's Last Scene Alive In The Film = Money Problems? poplion
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