Joan Crawford gave a memorable performance as Mildred Pierce. This movie isn’t really about answering the question of who killed the victim whose last act is to call for Mildred. Yet that’s what the audience wants to know from beginning to end. At first glance, the title tells you nothing except the name of a character. After watching the film, I found the title tells more than that because the story tells much more than most mysteries.
Money plays a key role in this picture. Mildred starts out with not enough of it. Then she gets more and finds that it doesn’t satisfy. She goes through a lot to finally come to that realization. But in the end, I’m not sure if she fully understands what led to the devastating tragedies in her life.
Ann Blyth plays Veda, one of Mildred’s two daughters. She seems to have issues with money. But is the movie about money? Or is it about parenting?
Who’s the hero of this story? At first, I thought there was no hero. It’s a story full of conflict. The men in Mildred’s life add to her problems. Then I thought about the policeman who listens to Mildred tell the stories that give clues to the answers he’s looking for. He listens like a hunter watches prey. He’s quiet. You don’t know he’s there most of the time. However at the end of the story, he shows his heroic ability which is getting to the bottom of it and revealing the truth.
Butterfly McQueen played Lottie, Mildred’s maid. She’d already made her audience love her as Prissy in Gone with the Wind. Some of that same helpful yet arrogant style came through in her performance as Lottie.
Best Actress Oscar went to Joan Crawford. She excused herself from attending the ceremony by claiming she was ill. However, she allowed the media into her bedroom after the awards show was over so she could accept the award herself.
Several Oscar nominations were handed out for high quality performances. Best Actress in a Supporting Role nominations went to Eve Arden and Ann Blyth. The movie received the Best Picture nomination. Ranald MacDougall was nominated for Best Writing, Screenplay. And Ernest Haller was nominated for Best Cinematography, Black and White.