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
When Joan is spanking Christina with the wire hanger next to Christopher's bed, a blanket covering Christina appears and disappears between each blow. See more »
[Entering Joan's bedroom after seeing her dolls are missing]
My babies! Someone stole both my babies!
[Rubbing skin lotion on her arms]
That's good, darling. They were thoughtless, selfish, spoiled children - now they won't wake you up when you need your rest.
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"Why can't you treat me like I would be treated by any stranger on the street?"
"Because I am NOT one of your FANS!"
Simply said, this is superb trash. Enjoyable b.s. Faye Dunaway lobbied hard for the role of Joan Crawford (Christina Crawford wanted Anne Bancroft) and she admirably sinks into the part with relish. I loved the opening montage of "Joan" preparing for her day early in the morning: scrubbing her hands and nails, numbing her face in ice cubes, leafing through a script in her car, getting made-up, and then whirling around in her chair and letting loose with a breathy, "Let's go!"... Sadly, Frank Perry's direction is awkward and unsure, cutting off some sequences before they're allowed to build and letting other scenes ramble on. The movie doesn't do justice to the riveting book by Joan's adopted daughter Christina, committing to film the book's highlights, the talked-about bits where Crawford freaked out, but skimping on the details. We learn absolutely nothing about Christina's many tormented years in an L.A. Catholic Boarding School (we see her check in and we see her check out). Joan's marriage to Pepsi czar Alfred Steele and her three other adopted kids are also given the short shrift. What we do get with "Mommie Dearest" is pure, unadulterated Faye. She acts up a storm and revels in these primal opportunities. It's one of the highlights of her spotty career. **1/2 from ****
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