Site hosted by Angelfire.com: Build your free website today!
 

Mildred
Pierce

Oscar Wins:  1

Best Actress: Joan Crawford

Oscar Nominations: 6
Best Picture

Best Supporting Actress: Eve Arden 
Ann Blyth
Best Cinematography: Ernest Haller
Best Writing/Screenplay: Ranald MacDougall


Cast:
Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, Eve Arden, Ann Blyth, Bruce Bennett, Lee Patrick 

Storyline: A woman is questioned for a murder, and as her story unravels, we are treated to a tale of a woman who rose above her station as a housewife, to become a successful business woman, who must fight off opportunists and swindlers, while protecting her selfish daughter.

Why Should It Have Won? Joan Crawford worked her butt off for this movie, and if the film isn't evidence enough, the fabulous behind-the-scenes story should prove it.  Joan gives a power house performance,  in a story that moves fast, and takes lots of twists!

The plot has some deficiencies, particularly where is moves too quickly for its own good.  The scene where the husband is thrown out seemed a little contrived, and crossed the border into pure soap opera, but once again, Joan is the one to watch, and she truly proves she can carry the film through its weaker moments. 

Why Didn't It Win? The Joan effect!  Joan Crawford's rise back to the top was well documented, and it was a given that she would win the Best Actress Oscar.  Perhaps voters put all of their efforts into that category.  

The message movie!  The Lost Weekend tackled alcoholism, opening up a subject that wasn't discussed so freely until that time.  Lost Weekend had an impact, and Hollywood could be proud that they were making a serious statement.  Sadly, message movies are only appropriate for their time.

 

Veda is ashamed to find out that her mother is working as a common waitress.  Mildred says "I'm doing the best I can to put food on the table."

The mother of all biographies had to be Mommie Dearest, the nasty tell-all by the bitter daughter of Joan Crawford.  She wrote about her life as Joan's abused adopted daughter, suffering through alcohol, bizarre rituals, and god forbid, wire hangers.  The book was a best seller that made Joan Crawford a bigger star than she ever was before her death in 1977.  

What better tribute to this woman could there be, than a campy, over-the-top film, based on Christina Crawford's book?  Faye Dunaway had an eerie resemblance to the star, in a film that pulled out all the stops.  Admittedly, the film was not a prestigious one, and some the acting left a little to be desired, but the film is well worth watching, if only for the outrageous performance by Dunaway.  The story may not be true, but there is no doubt that Dunaway does the best Joan Crawford impression ever!  

Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford, rehearses the same scene, in Mommie Dearest.

 

Behind the Scenes: No Joan Crawford biography would be complete without an in-depth analysis of the Mildred Pierce episode.  Joan was cut out of MGM's stable of stars in the 1939, after years of dismal box office.  According to her bitter daughter, a furious Joan cut down the rose bushes the night she was fired.  

Joan didn't give up and started looking for good roles with other studios.  Michael Curtiz was casting for the role of Mildred Pierce after Bette Davis dropped out, and he wasn't interested in Joan. He quipped, "Me direct that temperamental bitch! Not on your goddamn life!"  Joan had to screen test for the part, a huge insult to an actress of her stature, but she did it, and Curtiz hired her.  

The film was an instant success, and Joan's career was back on top.  The Oscar nomination for Best Actress was a given, but Joan wasn't convinced that she was going to win it, or perhaps she used the opportunity to stage the most over-the-top acceptance speech in Oscar history.  

Joan feigned ill that night, and listened to the show on the radio.  When she won, she ushered the press into her bedroom, where, bedridden, and looking lovely, she posed with her Oscar statue.

Meanwhile, Curtiz gladly ate humble pie after the success of the film.  He said, "When I agreed to direct Miss Crawford, I felt she was going to be as stubborn as a mule and I made up my mind to be plenty hard on her.  Now that I learned how sweet she is, and how professional and how talented she is, I take back even thinking those things about her."  Crawford was a gracious sport about it all.  She presented him with a pair of her trademark shoulder pads.

In a bid for the Oscar, producer Jerry Wald planted a story with Hedda Hopper, proclaiming that Joan's performance was so good that she was a shoe in for the top prize.

A bedridden Joan Crawford is handed the Oscar for Best Actress.  She is flanked by studio boss, Jack Warner.

Joan's comeback vehicle is one of the best examples of film-noir ever!
The film opens with a distraught Joan, a smoking gun, and a dead body.
Joan is the epitome of the perfect mother, doting on her two daughters, even after she throws her philandering husband out.
Jack Carson plays Wally, a scoundrel who comes calling when he finds out that Joan is single.
Joan dotes on her evil brat, Veda, played by Ann Blyth.
Joan takes a job as a waitress, in an effort to support her daughters expensive taste.
Butterfly McQueen doesn't even get a credit for playing Lottie, the precocious maid, hired to look after Veda's expensive tastes.

Zachary Scott is the dastardly love interest and investor, who romances Joan.

Joan snubs her critics, proving she still has what it takes to play the glamour queen!

The evil Veda moves in on her mother's man.
Mildred unwittingly helps her daughter scam her way out of a quickie marriage.
The evil Veda calls her mother a 'frump', just before taking off with her mother's man.
Mildred gives a heartfelt confession.