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The Essentials - March 2011
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Mildred Pierce,Mildred Pierce

The Critics' Corner: MILDRED PIERCE

Monday October, 27 2014 at 12:30 PM
Monday December, 1 2014 at 03:15 PM

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AWARDS & HONORS:

Mildred Pierce won the Best Actress Academy Award for Joan Crawford. It also garnered nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Eve Arden and Ann Blyth), Cinematography (Ernest Haller), Screenplay (Ranald MacDougall).

It also won the National Board of Review Best Actress Award for Joan Crawford.

The film was chosen in 1996 to be one of the motion pictures preserved on the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress.

Critics Corner: MILDRED PIERCE

Mildred Pierce was one of 1945's most talked-about movies and a top hit for Warner Brothers, bringing in about $5 million.

"Joan Crawford is playing a most troubled lady, and giving a sincere and generally effective characterization of same, in the new drama of James M. Cain origin, Mildred Pierce. It is a tribute to Miss Crawford's art that Mildred comes through as well as she does." - Thomas Pryor, The New York Times, 1945.

"Miss Crawford is very intense and restrained in the title role. She plays with studied under-emphasis a doting mother who spoils her monstrous daughter so badly that the latter tries to steal her second husband away from her." - Howard Barnes, The New York Herald Tribune, 1945.

"The film is compelling, an apotheosis of Crawford's MGM Cinderellas in the dark disquiet of Warners' film noir." - Ethan Mordden, Movie Star: A Look at the Women Who Made Hollywood (St. Martin┬┐ Press, 1983).

"Miss Crawford's heavy breathing was certified as acting when she won an Academy Award for her performance here." - Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies (Henry Holt and Co., 1982).

"For the first time, despite Crawford's brooding glamour, the woman on the screen is the woman in the movie house. Mildred Pierce is significant because of the straight-faced but patronizing view of this woman's definition of a good life. In hindsight, it becomes a piece of social criticism - more subtle than Warners - or director Michael Curtiz recognized, I suspect." - David Thomson, America in the Dark (William Morrow and Co., 1977).

"Everything about Mildred Pierce is first-rate, from stellar production values to Curtiz's marvelously paced direction, which refuses to allow sentiment to rule the story. The MacDougall script, adapted from Cain's terse novel, is adult and literate, with plenty of sharp dialogue. The Curtiz string-pulling is greatly aided by Grot's imposing sets, Haller's moody photography and Steiner's haunting score. Bravely cresting the waves of disaster is a mature Crawford in a real tour de force, defying the industry to write her off as washed up. She's matched every slap of the way by Blyth, here giving the performance of her career. The support in Mildred is, without exception, expertly handled. Scott is an exceptionally attractive snake and Arden turned in a definitive job as Crawford's wisecracking pal. Two peak scenes among aficionados of Saint Joan: Veda smacks Mildred; Mildred calls the police. Unforgettable." - TV Guide Online.

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