Mildred Pierce (1945) – Michael Curtiz

 

Joan Crawford stars in this recommendation following my screening of Les Enfants du Paradis for the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book. I’ve never been a huge Crawford fan, but quite enjoyed her turn in this film, a strong drama, that starts with the murder of Monte Beragon (Zachary Scott).

Told through her statement at the police office, we journey through Mildred’s (Crawford) life and see that she’s a devoted mother, though can never seem to give quite enough to her daughter Veda (Ann Blyth). When she has had enough of her cheating husband, Bert (Bruce Bennett), she kicks him out, and struggles to make ends meet. She works as a waitress, and she does it well, though she hides her job from Veda, who would think less of her, being in the serving industry is not work appropriate for one of her station she believes.

But as long as it affords her all that she wants, Veda will keep on taking the money, and making snide, cruel remarks to her hard-working mother.

With Bert out of the picture, Wally (Jack Carson) comes sniffing around, but it seems he’s been permanently friend-zoned, whether he knows it or not. Things are made worse for him, when after learning the ropes, and applying her hard work, Mildred decides to open her own restaurant, using property owned by Monte. Both Monte and Mildred are rather taken with one another, and begin seeing each other.

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Her restaurant becomes a chain, and she becomes a huge success, but having been given everything, Veda is now completely spoiled, and needs a bit of a shock to the system, especially as she starts getting flirty with Monte, whose interest in Mildred is waning. Veda is so money-hungry, she’s ready to have a romance with a rich boy, just to claim she’s pregnant to get a huge pay-off. Money she thinks will serve her and Monte well.

This is a strong film, and Crawford turns in a great performance, a hard-working mother who wants nothing but the best for her daughter, only to never have it be enough, despite being willing to give up everything. And over it all, hangs the question of who killed Monte?

A great film, and yet another one I never would have heard of it had not been for this book, it’s almost hard to believe that this one was made in the 40s, as it features such a strong female lead, and some of the material, like Monte romancing the wife, and then moving onto the daughter…

I enjoyed both Crawford and Blyth in this film, Blyth’s performance of Veda is spot on, and it just sounded like so many spoilt children I have heard throughout my life, no real concept of money, just want, want, want and you just want to see her have a revelation. And she does, partly.

All in all, a wonderfully strong film, perfectly acted, directed, and made. It also snagged Crawford an Oscar that year for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

What did you think of it?

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