If you’re into classic gossip you probably know about the rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Bette put it oh so nicely when she said that nice people play bitches on screen , which is why she [Bette] often delved into more complex characters on film. Joan on the other was a bitch, and played good girls on screen to get over herself. I can’t say if that’s true, I’m not a staunch believer in Bette Davis, though I don’t really care for Joan Crawford either. Whatever. But if you’re looking for a Crawford character that’s a good girl – look no further than Mildred Pierce.
I know that my blog buddy Twister loves this movie, and it is quite good. I’m not quite sure if Mildred Pierce represents some of the finest film making of the era – but there’s a particular reason that it, along with so many films in my top 100 are my favourites. It’s so easy to just pop this in and watch it; but for the life of me I always see Mildred Pierce as more of a comedy veering into camp than a straight up drama. But that probably just shows how screwed up my sense of reality is, because I suppose the film is serious. A serious melodrama, but serious nonetheless.
Spoilers Abound: Be Warned
I’m actually quite glad that there’s going to be a remake of this, since there are some things that I think can be worked on. Joan Crawford tries her best with her role, it’s the type of baity role that is still a bit boring and she really does try. There’s that scene when Mildred goes to the club and sees Veda singing. She has just recently thrown Veda out of the house and seeing Veda makes her realise just how much she loves her daughter. So when Veda suggests that she marries Beragon to have her back, it seems logical for Mildred. But, it doesn’t seem logical for me. I hate the way this issue is treated, as if it’s normal for Veda to demand this. Of course, Veda is not your typical eighteen year old – but still. I would have liked to see something more, like an internal struggle with Mildred as she weighed the options, or perhaps a bit of crying as she resigns herself to her fate. I don’t know something, though I don’t know what exactly.
Still, Mildred Pierce is still an enjoyable film. Crawford won an Oscar for her role and Ann Blyth [as her daughter] and Eve Arden [as her workmate] were both nominated. Anne was commendable in her role, though as the film continued she got a bit too schmaltzy for my liking. Eva Arden was great working with a very thin role. She definitely did an exceptional job of rising above the material. Then there’s the child actress Jo Ann MArlow who plays Mildred’s younger daughter. She’s out the film before it’s half way through, but I found her performance quite impressive. The men, I suppose, are fine; but they’re nothing outstanding.