Joan Crawford's Oscar-winning performance in 1945's Mildred Pierce was a career pinnacle she reached after a long and hard climb back from near oblivion. Labeled box-office poison and dumped from MGM, Crawford turned to Warner Brothers and put herself in the very capable hands of their film noir experts with sensational results. Swallowing her pride and taking a role that had already been turned down by three leading ladies, including her arch nemesis Bette Davis, was the smartest thing Crawford ever did. (Fans of Mommie Dearest will remember how Crawford "took to her bed" with a fake illness on Oscar night rather than attend the ceremony and risk losing in person.)
The luscious blacks and whites of this melodramatic noir classic suit Crawford's kabuki-like visage perfectly. As the ambitious, neurotic, and much put upon Mildred, Crawford is all eyebrows, cheekbones, and lipstick as she frantically tries to hold her little family together and make her way as a single mother and businesswoman.
Continue reading: Mildred Pierce Review