Joan Crawford plays Mildred Pierce, a housewife-cum-restraunteur (or “housewife cum restraint” if you ask my spellchecker) who struggles to meet the demands of her materialistic daughter Veda (Ann Blyth). But when her second husband is found dead, who is to blame?
Crawford gives another outstanding performance in the lead role, capturing the diligent mother and wife. Mildred keeps her emotions in check for most of the film, but we never doubt her suffering.
She is an imperfect character, and many of the pitfalls she faces are at least partially of her own making. But we never question the selflessness of her motivation: the desire to do the best possible thing for her children.
The supporting cast excel, in particular her daughters, played by Ann Blythe and Jo Ann Marlowe. The dialogue is thick and fast, and it’s well-directed, immersing the characters in busy environments.
It has a moral compass to match the strength of Mildred’s character. As with many of Crawford’s characters it’s a tale of an able, resourceful and determined woman, the likes of which is still unfortunately rare in Hollywood.
Suspenseful and intriguing throughout, Mildred Pierce is as dark as it is enthralling.