My friend, Kate, recently announced that her favorite movie ever is "Mildred Pierce". It had been years since I had seen it, so this week we watched it. Made in 1945, this B/W movie is based on the hard-boiled novel by James M. Cain and directed by Michael Curtiz.
Kate is right to love this movie. For starters, the opening sequence launches the story with bold composition and mystery. Ernest Haller's cinematography is outstanding. The film has classic Noir elements, a flashback story structure, plot twists and melodramatic performances between a mother and daughter. The undertones of a feminist and anti-feminist struggle is rich, creepy and ultimately unresolved. The movie features powerhouse Joan Crawford who won her only Oscar for this role, plus one of my absolute favorite supporting actresses, Eve Arden.
With a tagline of "A Mother's Love Leads to Murder," obviously, many suggest the film to mothers, daughters and women for some kind of parenting cautionary tale. I see caution for the precursor stage of love or marriage and for either gender. Regardless, the film is a great mysterious ride.
Oh, and one more reason to see the film is in preparation for coming theatrical movie releases. Currently, HBO is remaking "Mildred Pierce" with Kate Winslet. I greatly admire Winslet and wish her a lot, a lot, a LOT of luck since Crawford's are humongous shoes to fill on this role.