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


One thing is certain: You'll never look at a wire hanger the same way again! See more »


Biography | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

25 September 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Maman très chère  »

Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In an interview with Gay City News, Rutanya Alda recounted her uncomfortable experience with Faye Dunaway. "When [Jocelyn Brando, who played the journalist] saw me go down after Faye hit me, she said, 'I can't afford to be injured, I just spent six months in the hospital,'" Alda recalled. "Initially, Frank wanted both me and Jocelyn to pull her off Diana [Scarwid, who played Christina], but she saw Faye was out of control and said, 'No way.' We did maybe 10 takes and Frank had to deal with it because Faye wasn't gonna change what she was doing. I got knocked down maybe twice-she hit me hard in the chest." See more »


When Joan chops down the tree she gasps, and in the next shot the exact same gasp is repeated (noticeable by the odd cut in sound). See more »


Alfred Steele: Joan, you've got to understand it's a public company, for Chrissakes. This isn't Hollywood where someone takes care of things with a phone call, this is the REAL world.
See more »


Referenced in You Again (2010) See more »


Away in a Manger
Written by William J. Kirkpatrick
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Oh, God.
27 February 2005 | by (Baltimore, Maryland USA) – See all my reviews

This one actually goes half and half with me so its good and bad (or should I say it's so bad that it's good). I am a living witness (Hallelujah!) that whenever you are feeling down or depressed, watch "Mommie Dearest". But, word to the wise, don't watch it expecting good acting and wonderful relevance to the book, because you surely will not get it. The thing that makes the movie float above the rest of camp classics is the fact that it is based on an informative book by Joan's daughter, Christina. Therefore, it is to be dramatic and realistic like say "Guyana Tragedy" or "The Josephine Baker Story". But this movie is so unrealistic, it is funny. "And if you really want to roll over on the floor and have the mortician come to your house because you died laughing, I would recommend that you watch the whole thing on DVD and with French language (especially the wire hanger sequence). Hell, it doesn't matter if you don't speak the language, Mommie Dearest is like the opera, the emotions and movement will tell all you need to know, without understanding of the language. If I were giving an Oscar to Mommie Dearest, It would be for the beautiful silver dress Faye Dunaway has on... to take Christina's rancid, awful meat to the freezer, just so she can make the little snot eat it the next day. But as for the acting, no way! Faye goes over the top in her hammy performance as Joan, the poster-child for goggle eyed takes, shoulder pads, ankle-strapped shoes, and hypochondriac cleanliness. Diana Scarwid is so bland and uninteresting as Christina. and the rest of the cast... well, they are OK considering the parts they were given. But the only factors that could have made or broke Mommie Dearest were the two main characters therein, Joan and Christina Crawford. Scarwid broke the movie by vice of her apathy to the role she played (I would have thought in all accounts that if a child was abused, they would come out of it with a newfound understanding of their own inner strength and fight like hell to survive, which is what the real Christina did, according to the book. But, Scarwid is so unmotivated. She reminds me of my junior year Biology teacher, inane and in it for the paycheck. I think this performance is what caused Scarwid's Tinseltown demise. On the other hand, Dunaway hams it up and made the picture pass that thin line between drama and camp. Watch the movie. You will not think it Oscar Material but you will not be bored either.

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

Message Boards

Recent Posts
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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