on May 5, 2004
Everyone who has a weakness for old movies should have this one in his/her collection.
Steely Joan Crawford evokes sympathy as an abandoned, financially-strapped wife and mother, though you know all along that Mildred will make it somehow.
Make it she does, stumbling into the restaurant business and making a success of it in spite of the fact that men find her so darned irresistible that she has to stop and peel one off every few steps.
Adding to Mildred's troubles is the fact that oldest daughter Vida(played by dewy-eyed young beauty Ann Blyth) has become an insufferable snob somewhere along the line, in spite of her middle-class upbringing. Mildred worships Vida, in spie of the fact that Vida is moody, verbally abusive, and impossible to please.Vida wants to be "rich", but when Mildred makes lots of money, it still doesn't suit Vida because her mother worked (ew, yuck) for it. You wish that Mildred would shake her, or at least ground her.
Eve Arden, one of my all-time favorites, is her usual wonderful self as Mildred's shrewd secretary and loyal friend.
Butterfly McQueen gets wasted once again in the role of the family's maid.
Even if you're not a Joan Crawford fan, buy this one; it makes terrific rainy-night viewing.
on January 27, 2004
I've seen many movies of Joan Crawford, but I think that this movie gives a true glimpse of her character (not at all portrayed in "Mommie Dearest"). This movie shows Joan as a caring loving woman to her husband and children, a mother who will go to any length to have a better life for her and her family, who seems to show true emotion and tears when her little daughter dies, to win her daughter Veda's love -- even to go as far enough to protect her when Veda does murder! Realistically, if I acted that way, my mother would have made true those words, "Get out before I kill you." LOL It's a classic that's not to be missed. Strike up the fireplace, put your feet up on the couch, get your hanky ready and enjoy this classic.
on May 21, 2004
Here is the story of your average post-World War II housewife who believes that nothing is too good--or too much--for her two precious daughters. By the time this great soap opera is over, she has buried one child, experienced the murder of a cheating, mooching sleazeball of a husband, sent the other daughter off to prison, and gone into bankruptcy. But at least Eve Arden's character is good for a few laughs. At the end, though, she seems to reconcile with her first husband, whom she kicked out of the house in the first reel for losing his job. It's nice to know one can sometimes start out all over again.
on March 23, 2004
Mildred pierce in his spirit the film together with The Pastoral Symphony of Jean Delanoy who better explores the female world in this decade so filled with trouble and fear.
The close experience of the Second World war in a certain way was a crossroad for a huge crowd of directors. 1945 is the birth of the italian neorealism, the full comittment of the film noir, the first aproximations of the social film (Remember Kazan , Wilder , Dmytrik , Losey, Wyler,) and I think it was the starting point of the sparkle for the new wave cinema ten years after.
If you watch this movie, you`ll forget you`re in the a a film from the forties. Because the story is told so perfectly and the matter in question is so related with everyone of us that all the explored universe of feelings , the proud, the anger and the constance of the main character in a ravishing performance of Mrs. Crawford and the astonishing Anne Blyth, makes that film not only a cult movie but a obligated reference for those who love the art of cinema.
If I coukd, I`d give it ten stars instaed of just five.
on June 22, 2003
Joan Crawford had been making successful movies since the silent era. Her early career was full of singing and dancing, rarely showing the edginess that came to mark her later films. Before she was forced to leave MGM, most often she played roles that demonstrated a lighter touch. After signing with Warners, the Joan Crawford that most Americans came to know her by became evident. With MILDRED PIERCE, she shows the quintessential gravitas that later generations came to revere.
By 1945, Crawford's career was seen, mistakenly as it turned out, to be in eclipse. Director Michael Curtiz saw in her the actress who could radiate the same ruthless business sense that marked her business life but was paradoxically absent from that of her personal life. Just as Jay Gatsby came to symbolize the hollowness of the Jazz Age, so did Mildred do for the new spirit of American woman who had to struggle alone to build a life while their husbands were busy fighting overseas. Oddly enough, the role of Mildred was first offered to Bette Davis, who unwisely turned it down. Director Curtiz's instincts about Crawford were squarely on the mark as she went on to win an Oscar for Best Actress, beating out Ingrid Bergman, Greer Garson, and Gene Tierney. The toughness of the Mildred Pierce from the novel by James Cain is evident in nearly every scene except when Crawford chooses to drop the mask of continuous self-sacrifice to reveal a woman who has been buffeted by one husband who fails to see her essential goodness, a second husband who sees her only as a meal ticket, and a daughter whose nastiness was rivalled only by Bette Davis as slutty Mildren Rogers from OF HUMAN BONDAGE.
Crawford is Mildred Pierce,a tough-minded woman, abandoned by her husband (Bruce Bennet) to care for her two young daughters. The younger of the two dies of pneumonia, forcing Mildred to find work as a waitress. At this job, she starts at the very bottom of the restaurant totem pole. The hours are long, her feet are killing her, and the tips are lousy. But little by little, her life starts to fall into all the right places. Eve Arden is Ida, the wisecracking manager of the restaurant who first hires her then goes on to steal the show with the acid witticisms that have come to mark her career. What happens to Mildred is the downside of the American Dream that dictates that hard work, gumption, and feistiness lead to financial success. Mildred quickly learns the ropes of How to Make a Buck. She finds her success but at the cost of gaining an unscrupulous husband (Zachary Scott) while losing her remaining daughter Veda (Ann Blythe), whose ingratitude and moral sleaziness are immortalized in her parting lines to Mildred: 'I hate the smell of grease in your kitchen and on you.' With the non-stop complaints of the harridan-like Veda, she succeeds in coming across as the fun-loving flapper of a previous generation who finds out to her dismay that when the partying is over, she is expected to clean up her own mess. Veda and Mildred's new husband are the perfect pair: flashy on the outside, empty on the inside, and determined to climb the ladder of success on the other's respective back.
The joy of watching MILDRED PIERCE is not just from seeing how well Crawford claws her way to success while trying all the while to have the personal life that her business life seems bent on withholding. It also resides in the way the supporting cast bounces off each other at just the right pitch and the right moment. One of the film's central ironies is that the man who abandons her at the film's start (Bennet) stands revealed as the only one of Mildred's inner circle who remains loyal by the closing credits. Mildred, like Gatsby, learns a brutal truth about that tough climb up the ladder: wealth earned at the cost of losing one's family is a bleakly inadequate substitute for that loss. Gatsby never had a chance to learn this. Mildred did.
on May 16, 2003
"Mildred Pierce" is a credit to Joan Crawford's talent and a definite must see! Joan was awarded an Oscar in 1945 for her portrayal of Mildred Pierce, a woman consumed with making her daughters happy, no matter the cost. Michael Curtiz demonstrates "Casablanca" was not his last masterpiece, doing an outstanding job directing this Warner Brothers film.
Mildred Pierce is determined to make the lives of her daughters, Veda and Kay, everything her own was not, refusing to let anything or anyone stand in her way. Veda Pierce (Ann Blyth) is a spoiled, self absorbed teen who is never satisfied. Kay Pierce (Jo Ann Marlowe) is the sweet, endearing grade school girl who enjoys being a tom boy. Bert Pierce (Bruce Bennett), the children's father, is concerned primarily with his own wants and deeply resents the attention and material things Mildred lavishes upon Veda. With the loss of his job, he walks out on Mildred and the girls, leaving behind a mountain of bills.
Taking action, Mildred takes a job waiting tables in town in addition to the baking she already does for her neighbors. Befriended by Ida Corwin (Eve Arden) she quickly learns the ropes. Soon she can afford piano and dance lessons for Veda and Kay, all the while keeping her place of employment a secret from the girls because she fears Veda's reaction. However, Veda snoops around until she learns the truth and confronts her mother. Lying to Veda, Mildred explains that she is just learning the nuts and bolts of running a restaurant so she can have her own. With the help of Wally Fay (Jack Carson), former business partner of Bert's, she makes a deal with a lazy cad named Monte Beragon, played by Zachary Scott, to open a restaurant in a property he has for sale. "Mildred's" is such a success she soon opens a chain of them. She has made it and Veda will finally be happy! Sadly this is not the case.
Still seeking Veda's love and approval Mildred marries a man she can barely tolerate. Now she has an even bigger and better home with nice new furnishings. Surely this will satisfy her daughter! But Veda has other plans and sabotages everything Mildred has worked so hard to obtain.
I truly enjoyed "Mildred Pierce", a film that transports the audience to a world decades in the past. Even so, its illustration of to what extent people are willing to go in order to get what they want, regardless the price, remains forever timeless.
on April 27, 2003
Director Michael Curtiz ("The Adventures of Robin Hood," Casablanca") brings another James M. Cain ("Double Indemnity," "The Postman Always Rings Twice") steamy pulp novel to life on the silver screen with the immortal "Mildred Pierce."
With her portrayal as the title character, Joan Crawford gives a performance that places her in such august company as Barbara Stanwyck as the bottle blonde Phyllis Dietrichson in "Double Indemnity" (1944, dir: Billy Wilder) and Lana Turner's ambitious Cora in "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1946, dir: Tay Garnett).
Mildred, like Cora, is a driven woman, bent on commercial success. Crawford rightly earned the Best Actress Oscar for her role as the modern businesswoman, a model of ruthless ambition, making her mark and her way in a traditionally man's world. Following her transformation from ditched housewife to waitress to restauranteur
and tycoon, the viewer readily identifies with Mildred's struggle and sacrifice to make it big. "Mildred Pierce" is one of the screen's all-time inspirational portrayals of woman as efficacious heroine, a paragon of efficiency.
Yet, it is also a deeply human tragedy of Shakeperian dimensions, for Mildred is also a flawed heroine, on the same scale as Othello or Hamlet. What drives Mildred is not a clean motivation such as personal fulfillment as a businesswoman nor even a simple one such as amassing a fortune to obtain financial security. Rather, Mildred is driven by a Fatal Flaw -- insecurity and fear of failure.
For it is not the curse of the ancient Greek tragic heroes -- hubris -- but utter selflessness and altruism that brings down the House of Mildred. The object of Mildred's Mother Teresa-like compassion and sacrifice is the one person who holds veto power over her emotions and wallet, her conceited eldest daughter Veda, played by Ann Blyth. What Veda wants, Veda gets. The ultimate spoiled daughter, her lower middle-class parents give her "the best of everything" (pun intended -- another great Joan Crawford flick, also produced by Jerry Wald), from piano lessons to tailored dresses. Bent of giving Veda "everything I couldn't have," Mildred's motivation is for her daughter to not only rise above, but to blot out the family's humble and plebian origins.
After her husband, the wooden but commonsensical Bert (played by Bruce Bennett) leaves her for another woman, Mildred becomes a waitress in order provide for Veda. She even hires a maid, but never divulges to Veda the nature of how the money comes in to put food on the table. She is literally ashamed to face Veda with her workaday persona, and when confronted, makes up a story about being a waitress in order to learn the restaurant business.
So, playing the role, Mildred opens a restaurant, and to her surprise, learns she's got the knack for it. But, as she becomes more successful, and as the money rolls in, Veda's avaricious appetite grows larger. The once innocent looking bobby soxer
high-school girl has become "a young lady of very expensive tastes," and naturally, Mildred caters to those tastes, even going so far as marrying a man she doesn't love in order to keep Veda in the lap of luxury. But that's not enough for Veda, who herself marries a boy she's not in love with, just to cash in on his fortune.
"Mildred Pierce" is an all around masterpiece: Ernest Haller's camerawork is classic 1940s noir, but with Jerry Wald's slick production, looks almost five years more modern than its later Warner's counterpart, Howard Hawks' "The Big Sleep" (1946) and looks forward to more great Wald noir with "Key Largo" and "Dark Passage." The supporting cast is stellar, in particular Eve Arden as Ida, Mildred's wisecracking pal and mentor in the restaurant business, Zachary Scott plays Monty Beragon, Mildred's weaselly Latin playboy husband, Jack Carson is the hard-nosed Wally, her slick and slippery business partner and Moroni Olson (a veteran Warner's contract player) as the detective who interrogates Mildred (a typical noir device, which sets the narrative for the movie, but with the twist that it's a woman telling the story, not the male detective, con, sap or sucker).
Max Steiner's score sobs, throbs and rumbles, with its sweet violin strains underscoring Mildred's sacrifice and humanity and plenty of foreboding low strings and brass a la Richard Wagner intoning the movie's tragic violence.
"Mildred Pierce" more than holds its own in the Cain trilogy and is a unique and first-rate movie. It will leave Joan Crawford fans on their feet cheering.
on April 17, 2003
Poor Joan Crawford! Her memory may be forever associated with wire hangers. And this is all too bad because before Mommie Dearest, Joan Crawford was remembered as a serious and talented actress.
In Mildred Pierce, Joan plays a mother who gives up everything -- including her happiness -- for the love of her bratty daughter. Joan is so good in this movie, that I once read somewhere that someone commented on how you could actually believe Joan WAS Mildred, that you could actually believe it when she was mixing that cake batter.
Considered one of the best "woman's picture" in cinema history, Mildred Pierce is actually a brilliant film noir that works on many levels. This DVD is packed with extras that Crawford fans and film buffs will enjoy. Included on side B of the disc is a documentary on Crawford and trailers for six of her films! What a delight this is! The only thing I do not like about this DVD is the cover -- it is misleading and does not really say what the movie is about. For a film of this caliber, I am surprised that the studio could not invest on a nicer piece of artwork. Overall, Excellent. A+
on April 8, 2003
There are good films, even great films...and then there are those in which all the elements come together to form something so close to perfection, something that so exemplifies what can be enriching, artistic and just flat out entertaining about the medium that you can only sit back in wonder and let it flow over you like a pleasant, soothing bath. "Mildred Pierce" is such a film. The cinematography, music, script, acting -- there are few films that come close to matching the skill with which "Mildred.." has been put together. There's not a moment, a line or a look that rings false; not a frame that doesn't speak of the craft of Hollywood at its peak. But not in a self-conscious way. In fact, this is the least campy of Hollywood's melodramas, even with Miss Joan Crawford in the lead. Few actresses have deserved their Oscar more. The sensitivity and understatement she brings to the role is mighty impressive, particularly in light of the scenery chewing and self-parody to which she could so often fall prey. If you're at all interested in Hollywood's golden years and you don't know "Mildred Pierce" -- well, you really can't be a Hollywood connoisseur without it in your collection.
on March 15, 2003
"Mildred Pierce" certainly took long enough to arrive on DVD, but it was worth the wait. This transfer is everything one would want. I second all the positive opinions on this page.
If you like this DVD, I recommend "Sudden Fear" (an exceptional thriller with several great Crawford "moments") and the very campy "Queen Bee," which have been released.
And let's hope other sought-after Crawford films from the same era are soon released on DVD. "Possessed," for one. The vulnerability of her performance in that makes the viewer's hair stand on end. The very entertaining (often in unintentional ways) "Torch Song" is another choice movie. And let's not forget the excellent "A Woman's Face."
Or even better, the studio could release box sets collecting the best of Crawford's output (as was the case on laserdisc).
When all is said and done, Joan Crawford remains the epitome of the Hollywood star, and more of her striking and affecting performances deserve to be burned onto DVD.