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Mommie Dearest (1981)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  18 September 1981 (USA)
6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 9,106 users  
Reviews: 152 user | 68 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.

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(book), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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Title: Mommie Dearest (1981)

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8 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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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 »

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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

Taglines:

Meet the biggest MOTHER of them all! See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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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
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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

During opening sequence set in late Thirties, a sightseeing tour bus drives past with an illustration of the famous Hollywood sign on its side. In reality, at that time the sign would have read "HOLLYWOODLAND" - the "LAND" portion of sign (which originally promoted a housing development called HOLLYWOODLAND) was not removed until the late 1940s. See more »

Quotes

[at a press conference on her wedding day]
Joan Crawford: You know, a few minutes ago a reporter asked me what I thought and how I would describe the marriage between the soft drink King and the Queen of Hollywood. I told him I thought it was a hell of a match.
Alfred Steele: That's my Pally.
Joan Crawford: Oh, "Pally". That's what he calls ya when he can't remember your name.
Alfred Steele: Don't let her kid you, I remember her name. It's Mrs. Alfred Steele. Right, Pally?
Joan Crawford: Right.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Sons of Anarchy: A Mother's Work (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Minuet in F (from Water Music)
(uncredited)
Written by George Frideric Handel
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Words Can't Do Justice
1 September 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It seems almost pointless for me to add any comments here, since everyone else who's posted has done such a great job of summarizing this film's merits, but I can't resist. How do you rate a movie like this? On the one hand, it's one of the worst movies I've ever seen: completely lacking in coherence, shameful acting, writing so bad it seems to be making fun of itself. In fact, I'm still not convinced this movie isn't supposed to be a parody of Christina Crawford's book rather than a serious attempt to adapt it to the screen. On the other hand, it's such a rip-roarin' good time of a show that I'm tempted to give it 10 stars on the strength of its sheer entertainment value alone.

Faye Dunaway gives the most jaw-droppingly mesmerizing freak out ever captured on screen, whose bizarreness cannot even be topped by Halle Berry's Oscar acceptance speech. Dunaway must have realized early on that she was a rat in a sinking ship, but instead of deserting, she decides instead to devour the crew. I don't know if her performance comes anywhere close to capturing the real Joan Crawford, but if Crawford was even a tenth of a percent as loony as Dunaway portrays her here, I would have been high-tailing it to Canada if I were either of her children. The fabulous lines, many of which are quoted on this site, can't really be done justice when removed from the context in which they appear, and you really have to see the faces of the actors as they're delivering them to get the full effect. The wire hanger scene is of course a classic, but it's really the floor scrubbing scene immediately following, with Dunaway in kabuki makeup squatting on the floor like a Sumo wrestler, that remains more memorable. Watching Joanie jog is a sight to behold, especially when she starts talking to herself and scrunching her face up as if she's imitating Alvin or one of his chipmunks. There's the "I can handle the socks" moment, one of the most seductive moments (hee, hee) in film history, and of course the coup de grace comes when Joanie tackles Christina across the coffee table and begins banging her head into the floor like she's in a women's prison movie.

The editing in this film is atrocious. There's no sense of time; events follow each other in a loosely chronological fashion, but they don't make dramatic or narrative sense. Frank Perry, the director, must have been dozing off through much of this production; either that or his film crew carried out a mutiny, tied him up, threw him in a shed, and went ahead without him. But it seems churlish to criticize a film like this for its poor film making. It's like kicking a dead horse.

All I can say is, if you watch this movie with the right people in the right frame of mind (i.e. with alcohol), you will be howling. I watched this with a group in college, and we had to periodically pause the movie in order to allow everyone to recover before continuing. Thank you, Ms. Dunaway, for giving us "Mommie Dearest." The world will never be able to repay you for your kindness.

Grade: F or A+ (depending on your perspective and level of sobriety)


81 of 101 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
How could anyone find this movie funny? coupleofflakes2
'Mommie Dearest' Hits home for me. tminnie
I think Christina's story checks out. And there is proof. j-s-inbrewer
Why Did everyone dislike the movie so much? Kylkoog
One of My Mother's Favourite Films -Saw Nothing Wrong With the Behaviour cgrady-2
What's wrong with wire hangers? Normal-Bates
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