Mommie Dearest (1981)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB

USA, 1981Paramount Pictures.  Screenplay by , Frank Perry, , , based on the book by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by New York Film Critics Awards 1981.  

Oh come on, it’s a terrible movie, but imagine the world without gay men running around screaming “No more wire hangers!” If it weren’t responsible for the destruction of a great actress’s career, I’d say this was one of the best things to happen to the movie industry in the eighties:  producers with such a low estimation of their audience’s intelligence finally getting a good slap in the face. However, it did ruin Faye Dunaway‘s chances of getting a good role for years, and for that it can never be forgiven. Only five years after her Oscar win for Network, Dunaway stars as Hollywood movie star Joan Crawford, who adopted two children in the thirties as a way to boost her public appeal, then proceeded to ruin their lives with her megalomaniac personality and unfortunate obsession with cleaning.  At least that’s how it was described in daughter Christina Crawford’s tell-all trashy book, here portrayed by Diana Scarwid (a most underrated actress) as the abused daughter who endured being beaten over the aforementioned closet devices before finally getting it all out on paper (which she published while her mother was still alive). Dunaway really tears into the role and gives it her all, but the surroundings are cheap and the dramatic quality of the film is campy; she looks like a drag queen doing an imitation of Joan Crawford, so naturally the film has a cult appeal all of its own.

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