" I just thank God it all happened" ~Joan Crawford on "Mildred Pierce"
"Mildred Pierce" 1945
Cast: Joan Crawford~Jack Carson~Zachary Scott~Eve Arden~Ann Blyth~Bruce Bennett~George Tobias~Lee Patrick~Moroni Olsen~Jo
Ann Marlow~Barbara Brown~Butterfly McQueen.
Director: Michael Curtiz
Producer: Jerry Wald
Box Office Figures for "Mildred Pierce":
Top Grossing Film Position: Ranked in the Top 10 films of 1945.
Gross Rentals: $3,483,000.
If you have seen this movie, please write a review below. Once your review is submitted, I will post the review below.
Thank you for your review on this film.
Reviewer: Gary from Midnight Palace Website
Stars: Four out of Four
Review: Please don't tell anyone what Mildred Pierce did! With a tagline like that, so much is left to the imagination.
By 1945, Joan Crawford had made a series of flops at MGM and her career was fizzling out. At 40 years old, she'd already passed
her prime. Many of the big studios had employed younger stars, so Crawford was more likely to be a mentor than a headliner.
Nevertheless, after Bette Davis and Rosalind Russell turned down the part, Crawford beat Barbara Stanwyck to the punch for
the starring role in Mildred Pierce. In retrospect, no other actress could have become this character, so perhaps there is
something to fate.
A shot rings out...what could have happened? Joan Crawford stars as Mildred Pierce, an over-worked housewife whose husband
Bert (Bruce Bennett) has an affair with their neighbor Maggie Biederhof (Lee Patrick). Bert takes the defensive when Mildred
confronts him, even though he is clearly in the wrong. He suddenly leaves Mildred to raise their two daughters, Veda (Ann
Blyth) and Kay (Jo Ann Marlowe). Veda, the older of the two, is completely consumed with the idea of material wealth. With
this new living arrangement, she can no longer enjoy the benefit of two parents who are financially comfortable. Veda belittles
her mother for causing the broken home and pulling her monetary rug out from under her. She also condescends anyone who works
an ordinary job. With her back against the wall, Mildred secretly takes a job as a waitress just to make ends meet. She knows
this position would mortify Veda, so she hides her uniform. Veda does eventually find the uniform and assumes it belongs to
their live-in housekeeper Lottie (Butterfly McQueen). Mildred admits to the waitressing job, causing Veda to cry tears of
shame. However, while working at the diner, Mildred devises a brainstorm to open her own restaurant. She believes this will
have a two-fold effect...she can earn the respect of her daughter by becoming a business owner, and she can return to a life
that does not count every penny. Mildred finds the perfect spot for her venture, a place owned by Monte Beragon (Zachary Scott).
The only problem is, she has no start-up money, so she offers to give Monte a percentage of the business as soon as it thrives.
Monte is hesitant at first, but Mildred's desperation and persistance win him over and the deal is made with the help of Wally
Fay (Jack Carson). Wally is Mildred's realtor, but longs to be more despite her constant rejection of his advances.
Veda begins to take a liking to Monte. Monte has money, and to Veda, that's as important as having a pulse. As Mildred's
restaurant becomes increasingly popular, her finances soar, making her a certified millionaire. Veda and Monte begin a romance,
and when Mildred finds out, Veda plays the victim (in true drama queen fashion). She puts on the act of perpetual innocence..nothing
is ever her fault and she is merely a victim of circumstance. As time goes on, Veda's expenditures spin out of control and
she continues to get herself in trouble. Though she has endured verbal abuse from her daughter on countless occassions, Mildred's
maternal instinct will not allow her to leave her child to the wolves, so she rushes to her aid. Mildred wants her and her
daughters to be a family again, and she sacrifices her dignity to make that happen. Veda has other plans. Her extravagance
knows no limits; her star-like deameanor feeds her a complex of superiority that her mother cannot satisfy...so she moves
out. Mildred is heartbroken but understands that she has little say in the matter. Veda's troubles continue until she finds
herself in the worst situation she's ever caused...a terrible turn of events...an unforgiveable criminal act. Mildred is now
torn between the right thing to do and rescuing her daughter. What's a mother to do?
Mildred Pierce took a typical family and shattered it to pieces. In a time where glamour and status defined the worth
of people, the idea of money reigning over values was a realistic view of life. This was a role made for Joan Crawford. In
real life, she was at a crossroad with a string of unsuccessful movies that all but promised the end of her career. It stands
to reason that she ran for this part, and in art imitating life, her character was in a similar position. It was interesting
to see such a strong personality (Mildred) brought to her knees by the incessant whining of a spoiled child (Veda). Ann Blyth
did a great job portraying Veda. She played her in a split-personality type of way. Veda was a Jeckyl and Hyde character,
on one hand she was the face of adolescent confusion, yet, on the other she was a ruthless, materialistic monster. Children
are usually demanding with no concept of cost, and in this case, Veda was at the forefront of the movement. Jack Carson was
a great choice to play Wally Fay. As mentioned in the Arsenic and Old Lace review, Carson often played characters that never
got what they really wanted. Wally was a respectable businessman and a genuinely nice guy, but he couldn't resist the opportunity
to ask Mildred out, or to proclaim his desire for her. She shot him down repeatedly, and lesser men would have given up or
even become angered by the rejection. Wally keeps walking back into the firing squad. He has a hint of a self-esteem issue,
and even though he tries to cover it with playful banter, it comes through in his facial expressions. Zachary Scott was another
strong additive to this mixture. As Monte, he carried himself very cool and laid back...very fitting to the era of suave actors.
His words were spoken softly, yet confidently. He very seldom needed to raise his voice, because his choice of words were
so dead-on that the point was made with little effort. This was a great balancing act for the film. Mildred herself was similar,
but Veda was like a wedge of cold steel that forced its way into the calm.
Stars: Four stars
Review: "Mildred Pierce" is a fabulous film on all counts with superb performances particularly from Joan Crawford
in the title role (she won the Oscar) and Ann Blyth as her monstrous daughter Veda. The casting was fortuitous. Crawford's
performance is a marvel of control as the long-suffering, hard-working Mildred and her look of strain beneath the control
is perfect. When she blows -- it's delicious and about time; audiences always clap! Ann Blyth, in contrast, has that sneering,
fresh-faced insolence that is the perfect counterpoint. Basically Mildred is willing to do anything and everything for the
love of her ungrateful daughter -- perhaps even murder-- and meanwhile the men in her life are pretty slimy, too. There are
twists and turns in the plot, based on the James M. Cain novel (which I also read), so I won't say too much more. What a classic!
The moody black and white noir cinematography; Crawford's gorgeous glamour (and iconic suits with linebacker shoulderpads
-- suffering in mink); great dynamics between the cast; a terrific story; and great character actors like Eve Arden and Butterfly
McQueen. All in all, classic Crawford. Classic film noir. A film not to be missed.
Review: I think Joan deserved the Oscar for "Mildred Pierce" and I think it is one of Joan's greatest movies