Friday, September 2, 2011

The Magnificent Mildred Pierce

If you are looking for a picture of greatness, look no further than Joan Crawford's best role in my opinion, "Mildred Pierce".

We start this work of art with Joan, as Mildred, looking like she has had better days. She gets pulled into the police station for some questioning.  This film is all about flashbacks and we are quickly taken back in time and learn Mildred is married with two girls. Things go south and her hubby and her divorce. Older daughter Veda is a teen and starting to get "the attitude". Mildred learns for the first time in her life she is going to have to be a working woman.

LOVE this house.

Mildred and  her ex's pal Wally, played by Jack Carson, tries to make a move the same day as her divorce (too soon Wally!) but is shot down. He lets Mildred know he is there for support...any support she would need at all. Mildred is having trouble with Veda and on top of all this needs to get a job. She is hired as a waitress.

Along with Mildred, we learn that Veda is a major bitch. She wants to be rich, she wants mother to not work, she wants this, and that. Mildred is ashamed that she has to work and wants nice things for her daughters so she starts making pies under Veda's back so she won't be embarrassed. 

What! You make pies?!

Veda finds out and is furious.  Mildred throws her down the stairs decides to open a restaurant after she realizes how good she is at it. With Wally's help, she buys a fixer upper from hottie Monte (Zachary Scott) and "Mildred's" starts to boom.

Veda can finally be proud of her mother. During all this, the "good" kid comes down with illness and it doesn't look good.

Mildred starts to date Monte and Veda wants more money. Mildred buys her a car but she is still not happy. Mildred marries Monte even though she is over him to make more money for the family and keep Veda hapy.

All I do is write checks!

Since Veda is too good to work and mother isn't paying up enough, Veda decides to marry up. Since this doesn't work (nobody wants to marry a nagger) she tells her man she is knocked up so he can buy her off. It works and Mildred prepares for a baby, only to learn Veda made it up for the dough! Mildred is pissed and a fab cat fight scene plays out.

As the flashbacks come and go you learn that Monte is dead and the cops are trying to find out who did it. Many secrets are going on without Mildred knowing and Mildred learns she has been bankrupted by Monte! She wants to kill him. When Monte shows up dead the cops need to find out who is guilty. Was it Wally? Was it Vera? Was it Mildred? 

The motive and the murderer are what make this film one of a kind.    Joan Crawford and Ann Blyth are fantastic! It was nominated five times with Joan taking home the Oscar for best actress. Well deserved, she excepted this award in bed since her real life personality was more like Veda's than Mildred. But what a show!


Craig Wingard said...

This is one of my favorite films Joan did. I had hoped to see it on the big screen when it played at a local theater but I had to miss it.

Kate Gorman said...

Great film. I want to slap Veda! xx