176 user 66 critic

Mommie Dearest (1981)

The abusive and traumatic adoptive upbringing of Christina Crawford at the hands of her mother, screen queen Joan Crawford, is depicted.



(book), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »

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9 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
... Joan Crawford
... Christina Crawford (adult)
... Greg Savitt
... Louis B. Mayer
Mara Hobel ... Christina Crawford (child)
... Carol Ann
Harry Goz ... Alfred Steele
... Ted Gelber
... Barbara Bennett
... Mrs. Chadwick
Joe Abdullah ... Captain
Gary Allen ... Jimmy
Selma Archerd ... Connie
Adrian Aron ... Wedding Guest
... Christopher Crawford (adult)


The relationship between Christina Crawford and her adoptive mother Joan Crawford is presented from Christina's view. Unable to bore 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 Huggo

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)

Opening Weekend USA:

$905,920, 20 September 1981, Limited Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


A month after the film was released to bad reviews, audiences flocked to see the film armed with Ajax and wire hangers to actively "participate" with the film in a manner similar to The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). Paramount seized on this new found notoriety and began to bill the film as a camp classic, with ads and posters proclaiming, "Meet the biggest MOTHER of them all!" Producer Frank Yablans was infuriated at this ad campaign. See more »


Throughout the entire film, there are sequences (especially yelling and screaming sequences) where there are obvious echos of what they are saying. See more »


Lawyer: [reading from Joan's will after her death] It is my intention to make no provision herein for my son Christopher or my daughter Christina, for reasons which are well known to them.
Christopher: What reasons?
Christina: (laughing bitterly) Jesus Christ.
Christopher: As usual, she has the last word.
Christina: Does she? Does she?
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Referenced in Anything But Love: Dorothy Dearest (1989) See more »


I'm Sitting On Top Of The World
by Sam Lewis, Joe Young (as Young) & Ray Henderson (as Henderson)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

It got a bad rap, and Dunaway was robbed
29 September 2006 | by See all my reviews

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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