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Joan Crawford is one of the greatest movie stars of all time and people don't talk about this fact enough. A film like Mildred Pierce which is slow and moody needs an actress with the charisma and natural intensity of Crawford to engage audiences for up to two hours and she's up to the task as she gives arguably her greatest performance. Going in I was already a fan of Crawford but I hadn't exactly warmed to director Michael Curtiz who's most famous work is the extremely overrated Casablanca (1942). He does a great job with this film however as he weaves a story of intrigue and passion that ends not with an overly dramatic climax but with a rather sad acceptance from our protagonist. This is a film made with terrific skill and the efforts of the filmmakers are all clear on screen as they have made a film that still holds up 74 years later.
Mildred Pierce, Joan Crawford, breaks up with her husband over disagreements about her working and his mistress. She quickly makes a success of herself after the separation by teaming up with her husband's smitten former business partner Wally Fay, Jack Carson, to open up a restaurant which quickly becomes a sensation and allows her to open several more. The owner of the building in which the first restaurant was set up, Monty Beragon, Zachary Scott, catches Mildred's eye and the two begin a relationship despite his repeated borrowing from her. Complicating their relationship even further is the fact that Mildred's materialistic daughter Veda, Ann Blyth, is also infatuated with Monty and bleeds her mother dry for money. Mildred eventually reaches a breaking point as all of the people around her continue to use her and attempts to leave Monty and Veda behind but Veda takes a fatal action.
The heart of the film is the difficult relationship between mother and daughter as we see the hardworking Mildred spoil her daughter so much in childhood that when she grows up she has no appreciation for the luxuries she is provided with. She feels at once trapped by her mother as she needs money to pay for her expensive lifestyle but feels embarrassed that she needs money from her mother, whom she has disdain for because she ‘works'. There are several points in the film where Veda makes statements that are so utterly ridiculous that you have the strong urge to slap some sense into her. Towards the end of the film she angrily rejects her mother as she informs her that she and Monty will be married and will abandon her. She clearly has not thought this plan through as we are aware that Monty financially relies on Mildred and that he and Veda together would have no hope of surviving what with their complete lack of abilities or willingness to work. We feel a small victory as Monty then informs a shocked Veda that he never intended to marry her and was simply using her but that is quickly taken away from us as we realize that Mildred will continue to support her daughter even at her own risk.
Crawford's central performance is stunning as we believe her innate strength from the moment we see her and yet she brings an unexpected vulnerability to a role that really needs it. She uses her wide eyes to convey Mildred's shock and horror but also her hurt in the many moments when she gets cut down by another person. In the final scene of the film she walks out of the police station with her ex-husband and we get the sense that she is free for the first time in her life but not enjoying it. Crawford was truly deserving of the Academy Award that she won and I only wish she had won more Academy Awards because she deserves more recognition for her acting talents.
This is a great film, one that everybody should see, and it's one of the finest examples of the much loved film noir genre that I have had the pleasure of seeing. The storyline and the performances are exceptional and you will walk away with an even greater appreciation for Crawford's talents as an actress.
The Crawford picture to END all Crawford pictures.
This movie was released in 1945 with different mores and a different culture, right at the end of WWII. Especially evident is the patriarchal society which was not welcoming of the go-getter Pierce. It is sappy and schmaltzy and an early forerunner for soap operas. I was surprised to see that William Faulkner wrote the screenplay, which was altered considerably from the original James M Cain novel. I found Crawford's performance great but the script strains credulity.
Joan Crawford gives an Academy Award winning performance in the title role of this melodramatic film noir. After Mildred's second husband is murdered, flashbacks reveal the events leading up to his death. A doting mother, Mildred rises from waitress to restaurant-chain owner, but her spoiled daughter's selfishness results in heartbreak. With those broad shoulders, those wall-to-wall eyebrows, that steely look on her face, and wrapped in those expensive clothes, the inimitable Joan Crawford exudes glamour and resolve as famed Mildred Pierce, housewife turned businesswoman, in this Michael Curtiz-directed film, part mystery, part melodrama. Joan Crawford won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of the title character in this 1945 noir classic . The tragedy of Mildred Pierce is an essential film noir.
enjoyed the noir elements and camerawork and Crawford's performance but couldnt stand her brat daughter and how Mildred wasted her life trying to give the unappreciative brat daughter everything she wanted
This is a classic and has an depth of a meaning and a hint of a spiritual message about a mother and daughter's life.
Joan Crawford and Zakary Scott in the mirror, switching to a recollection scene, how to use windows and shadows, a time-honored last. It is relieved rather than being good, including the performances of the actors.
A 40'S melodrama that shows its age, but still watchable.
Brilliant Hollywood film combines murder mystery with social examination without one dominating the other. Great performances facilitate an impactful exploration of women's societal role and how greed can corrupt judgment.
Great movie, Miss Joan Crawford gives a stellar performance!