Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. USA, 1945. Home Box Office, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Killer Films, John Wells Productions. Screenplay by Ranald MacDougall, based on the novel by James M. Cain. Cinematography by Ernest Haller. Produced by Jerry Wald. Music by Max Steiner. Production Design by Anton Grot. Costume Design by Milo Anderson. Film Editing by David Weisbart. Academy Awards 1945. Podcast: My Criterions.
Classic film noir about an ambitious single mother (Joan Crawford, resurrecting her dying Hollywood career with this film) who claws her way out of poverty and into a successful business only to succumb to the wandering ways of her selfish, unappreciative daughter (Ann Blyth). Crawford wants to straighten the little brat out, but her only method of appealing to her daughter’s approval is to give her everything and then give her more, turning the young woman into a social-climbing snob who looks down on the fried chicken and pies that have turned her mother into a successful, wealthy woman. Michael Curtiz directed many a great Warner Bros. film in the 1940s, and this is definitely one of his most popular; the visual details of Crawford’s rise from frustrated housewife to successful business owner make for a fascinating trajectory.