The relationship between Christina Crawford and her adoptive mother Joan Crawford is presented from Christina's view. Unable to bear children, Joan, in 1940, was denied children through regular adoption agencies due to her twice divorced status and being a single working person. Her lover at the time, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lawyer Greg Savitt, was able to go through a brokerage to adopt a baby girl, who would be Christina, the first of Joan's four adoptive children. Joan believes that her own difficult upbringing has made her a stronger person, and decides that, while providing the comforts that a successful Hollywood actress can afford, she will not coddle Christina or her other children, she treating Christina more as a competitor than a daughter. Joan's treatment of Christina is often passive-aggressive, fueled both by the highs and lows of her career, the narcissism that goes along with being an actress, and alcohol abuse especially during the low times. However, Joan sees much of ...Written by
I saw this movie the first night it opened in Las Vegas in 1981. The large theater was packed, SRO. What may come as a surprise today, the film was received seriously by the audience, who sat transfixed throughout. I don't recall inappropriate laughter (well, maybe a muted laugh or two when little Christina said "Jesus Christ" at the end of the wire hanger scene), and I remember hearing favorable comments from people around me, although many were horrified by the depictions of child abuse.
Unfortunately, the movie did not live up to the high expectations at the box office. After all, it was based on a best-selling book that sold 4 million copies in hard cover alone.
A few weeks later, Mommie Dearest was re-released and was being advertised as a campy movie in the vein of Rocky Horror, and patrons were urged to bring wire hangers to the theater. The studio turned against its own movie in order to milk more money out of it. That's a shame, because Faye Dunaway gave the performance of her life and deserved an Academy Award nomination, if not the award.
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