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Directed by Michael Curtiz

United States 1945 111 mins.

Following her early career at MGM, Joan Crawford moved to Warner Bros. in 1944, with Mildred Pierce her first starring role (though she played a bit part in Warners’ 1944 support-the-troops variety picture Hollywood Canteen.) The plucky studio had made famous the likes of James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart, and put Crawford in more sympathetic professional company than she had experienced at MGM. And what a first role: here Crawford plays the eponymous character, a wife stuck between her cheating, deadbeat husband Bert (Bruce Bennett) and her diabolical eldest daughter Veda (Ann Blyth). Mildred decides to go solo, divorcing her husband and starting her own restaurant with the help of a friend (Eve Arden). But which threat will collapse her first? Hard-swinging new beau Beragon (Zachary Scott), Veda, who takes to Beragon’s fast lifestyle, or the return of the jealous Bert? A potent blend of melodrama and noir that won Crawford the only Academy Award of her career, “Mildred Pierce tapped directly into the postwar mood of the country—generally upbeat, but with an undercurrent of anxiety about traditional notions of sexuality and marriage.”—Thomas Schatz, The Genius of the System.

Genres: Melodrama

Appears in: Bette & Joan