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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What an uncanny version of James M. Cain's best seller. The guy must be
turning over in the grave with this rendition.
Veda as an opera singer? Come on. She couldn't play the piano and suddenly she is singing away? Rachel Evan Ward was not allowed to show the viciousness that sparkled in the 1945 performance of Ann Blyth. Blyth was a tyrant,the ultimate killer. Ward is allowed to bed down Monty but that's about it. Her farewell scene with Mama Mildred, as she prepares to leave for N.Y. is comical at best. Instead of that famous shooting scene, we have Mildred jumping all over Miss Veda. I thought I was going to see a wrestling match.
Monty is so drunk here that he had nothing to do with Mildred's going bankrupt. Instead, the blame for the demise of the business is on Wally? Remember in the '45 film when Wally said to Mildred after the business collapsed: "You Married him!"
All of a sudden, in this version, Ida is made to appear as a culprit. Then she comes running at the end to apologize when Mildred remarries Burt. (Remember in the 1945 version that reconciliation is understood when the 2 walk away together after Veda is exposed for murder.)
Monty leads the cheering section for Veda's triumph at the Hollywood bowl. The Monty we knew was incapable of that.
The way this disappointing film ends, it appears that a sequel could be possible. Let's toast to that never occurring.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Mildred misses Veda, so she goes to see Treviso, the man that
'discovered' her daughter. She offers to pay for the singing lessons,
something that is refused by the conductor. Treviso compares Veda to a
bitch. After all, he reasons, she is a 'coloratura' soprano.
Mildred happens to run into Monty Beragon in an unfashionable part of town. He looks as though he is going through a lean period. Mildred makes an unwise decision when she asks Monty to help out in looking for a house in tonier Pasadena, where he is an authority. Monty's house has been in the market for a while. Mildred loves the house at first sight, so she decides to buy it.
The restoration of the mansion in Pasadena eats quite a lot of Mildred's budget. She starts losing track of the business, taking sums for the decoration. The house comes with the marriage of Mildred and Monty. At the reception for their wedding, Mildred is surprised by the singing she hears. It is Veda, the prodigal daughter who feels quite at home with the new, and ritzier neighborhood.
Veda has an upcoming presentation at the Philharmonic. Treviso is conducting. It is more like a recital in which Veda's talents are displayed. At the end, one executive offers Veda a contract, but she is stopped short by her agent who has already signed her to a less attractive contract.
Veda continues to live in the new luxury she finds in Pasadena. Mildred starts to get pressure from the creditors. Wally comes back to haunt her in a legal maneuver. He recognized in Ida the perfect substitute for Mildred. As a result, Mildred stands to lose the business she started. The betrayal of Wally is too much for her. Bert, who always stayed by Mildred's side presses her to ask Veda for help, something that is out of the question.
After seeing Bert, Mildred goes home to have a serious conversation with Veda. She looks in her daughter's room, but Veda is not to be found. Finally, she decides to check with Monty, who tries to avoid opening the door to the room. To Mildred's surprise, Veda is seen naked in bed. Mildred goes ballistic and orders them out.
Mildred and Bert reconcile their differences and remarry. At the Glendale home, a small party has been organized to celebrate their union. Veda arrives unexpectedly to tell her mother she is leaving for New York. Mildred finally realizes what this girl has done to her and tells her to go to hell. A mother's sacrifice never was appreciated by the ungrateful Veda.
This last episode of the mini series takes a different turn from the original. There are a lot of things that do not make sense. Take the Philharmonic sequence, for instance. The creators make it a sort of a musical show that in real life never happens. The full orchestra is always on stage and the singer is just another member of the ensemble.
Up to this point, the adaptation was more or less somewhat believable, but the creators decided to go a different route that is quite a departure with the novel. All in all, the series was good, but the last installment left a lot to be desired. That said, Todd Haynes, the director has to be given credit for the atmospheric adaptation he got out of the novel.
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