Film notes: Mildred Pierce (1945) directed by Michael Curtiz


US / 111 min / b&w /Warner Bros (as Warner Bros.-First National Pictures) Dir: Michael Curtiz Pro: Jerry Wald Scr: Ranald MacDougall, based on the novel by James M. Cain Cine: Ernest Haller Mus: Max Steiner Cast: Joan Crawford (Mildred Pierce), Jack Carson (Wally Fay), Zachary Scott (Monte Beragon), Eve Arden (Ida Corwin), Ann Blyth (Veda Piece), Bruce Bennett (Bert Pierce), Lee Patrick (Maggie Biederhof), Moroni Olsen (Inspector Peterson), Veda Ann Borg (Miriam Ellis), Butterfl y McQueen (Lottie), John Compton (Ted Forrester) Plot Summary: While the novel is told by a third-person narrator in strict chronological order, the film uses voice-over narration (the voice of Mildred). The story is framed by Mildred’s interrogation by police after they discover the body of her second husband, Monte Beragon. The film, in noir fashion, opens with Beragon (Zachary Scott) having been shot. He murmurs the name “Mildred” before he dies. The police tell Mildred (Joan Crawford) that they believe the murderer is her first husband, Bert Pierce (Bruce Bennett). Bert has already been interrogated, and confessed to the crime. Mildred protests that he is too kind and gentle to commit murder, and goes on to relate her life story in flashback. Release Date: 20 October 1945 (USA), 1 November 1948 (Spain) Spanish title: Alma en suplicio IMDb Rating: 8.0

Mildred Pierce features a compelling comeback performance by Joan Crawford in the starring role, after a slump in her career and a two year absence from movies. As well as Crawford’s unforgettable performance, the acting of the supporting cast, particularly Ann Blyth, Jack Carson and Eve Arden, is first class and makes the film completely believable. The black and white cinematography of Ernest Haller is memorably evocative and adds to the film’s noirish quality with frequent use of contrasting light and shadow. The film was a major box-office hit and was critically acclaimed. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Eve Arden and Ann Blyth), Best Screenplay (Ranald MacDougall), and Best B/W Cinematography (Ernest Haller). Joan Crawford won the film’s sole Academy Award for Best Actress for her title role.In 1996 the movie was selected for preservation in the United States Library of Congress National Film Registry. (Source: Hollywood’s Golden Age)

Mildred Pierce at American Film Institute

Mildred Pierce at IMDb

Mildred Pierce at Wikipedia

2 thoughts on “Film notes: Mildred Pierce (1945) directed by Michael Curtiz

  1. Thoroughly entertaining mixture of Noir and was then termed a ‘woman’s picture’ – interesting to note that the crime element, and the flashback structure, were added by the filmmakers and are not to be found in Cain’s original novel (personally I think it’s an improvement). I haven’t seen the recent TV miniseries with Kate Winslet though …

    • Thanks for your comment Sergio. Agree the film gains with the crime element and its flashback structure. I still have to finish reading the book, I have abandoned its reading several times.

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