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Mommie Dearest (1981)

6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 8,552 users  
Reviews: 150 user | 61 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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Title: Mommie Dearest (1981)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Howard Da Silva ...
Mara Hobel ...
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Harry Goz ...
Michael Edwards ...
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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:

The meanest 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:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Faye Dunaway mentions in her autobiography that she screamed herself hoarse during the filming for the notorious wire hanger tantrum scene in this movie. She called Frank Sinatra for help, and he gave her some pointers on how to get her voice back into shape. See more »

Goofs

A camera shadow is visible against the blue curtains (left side of the screen) when Joan Crawford rides the merry go round. See more »

Quotes

Christina Crawford: [pretending to be Joan] Oh yes, it was thrilling. I'm so grateful to you all... my WONderful fans, who made me a star. Oh yes. It was thrilling. I'm so grateful to you all. My WON-der-ful fans, who made ME a star... MOMMIE?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Reba: Mommy Nearest (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

To Each His Own
Written by Jay Livingston (as Livingston) & Ray Evans (as Evans)
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

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.


11 of 14 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
What's wrong with wire hangers? Normal-Bates
One of My Mother's Favourite Films -Saw Nothing Wrong With the Behaviour cgrady-2
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