Sunday, May 9, 2010

Motherhood + Noir = Mildred Pierce (1948).

Mildred Pierce (1945). Noir. Cast: Joan Crawford, Ann Blyth, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, and Eve Arden. Screenplay by Ranald MacDougall, William Faulkner, and Catherine Turney was based upon the 1941 novel Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain. Director: Michael Curtiz and produced by Jerry Wald with Jack L. Warner as executive producer. Mildred Pierce was Crawford's first starring film for Warner Bros. after leaving MGM and won her the Academy Award for Best Actress.

She was not at the award ceremony because she was home in bed with pneumonia. However, there was a story circulated that she faked her illness. Joan did not think she would win the Academy Award and she did not want to attend the ceremony to be humiliated. It was said that after she heard that she won the award for Best Actress, she jumped out of bed, did her make up and put on her best negligee to meet the press.

The film, begins with Beragon being shot. He whispers "Mildred" as he dies. The police believe that the murderer is Mildred Pierce's first husband. She then tells her life story in flashback:

We see a very unhappy Mildred married to a unemployed Bert Pierce, who cheats on his wife and walks out. He worked in real-state with his partner, Wally Fay.

Mildred's wants to spoil daughter Veda, who longs for the life the family cannot afford. Mildred finds a job as a waitress.

One day, Veda gives their maid Lottie Mildred's waitress uniform, which forces Mildred to admit that she is a waitress, embarrassing Veda.

When, Mildred's younger daughter Kay dies of pneumonia, Mildred throws herself into her restaurant. With the help of Ida, Mildred's new restaurant is a success. And Mildred opens a chain of "Mildred's" throughout Southern California.

Mildred continues to try to please Veda, by going into a loveless marriage with gold-digger Monty Beragon in order to improve her social standing.

Beragon lives the wild life supported by Mildred. When Veda becomes romantically involved with Monty, things come to a head at the beach house where the story began.

The movie is very interesting all the way through, because.. of the interesting characters:

Eve Arden, who provides the humor and wise cracks.

Ann Blyth, as the Daughter, is one of the worst kids in the history of film.

Joan Crawford, character is a hard-worker, good business sense (until the end).

Fun Fact:

Monty's Beach House, was owned by the film's director, Michael Curtiz. It was built in 1929 in Malibu. It collapsed into the ocean after a week of heavy storms in January 1983.

Zachary Scott (February 21, 1914 – October 3, 1965), was best known for his roles as villains and "mystery man". He was a distant cousin of George Washington, and his grandfather had been a very successful cattle rancher.

Scott was planning to be a doctor like his father, Zachary Scott Sr. (1880–1964), but after attending the University of Texas for a while, he decided to switch to acting.

He signed on as a cabin boy on a freighter which took him to England, where he acted in repertory theatre for a while, before he returned to Austin, and began acting in local theater.

Alfred Lunt discovered Scott in Texas and convinced him to move to New York City, where he appeared on Broadway. Scott made his debut on Broadway in a revival of Ah, Wilderness! in 1941 with a small role as a bartender.

Three years later, Jack Warner saw him in a performance of, Those Endearing Young Charms and signed him to appear in The Mask of Dimitrios.

He appeared the next year in the film, Mildred Pierce. In the film, Scott was Joan Crawford's gold-digger love interest, whose mysterious murder formed the basis of the plot.

In 1946 Scott and his first wife Elaine socialized regularly with Angela Lansbury and her first husband, Richard Cromwell. Elaine Scott had met Zachary Scott back in Austin and she made a name for herself behind the scenes on Broadway as stage manager for the original production of Oklahoma!. The Scotts had one child together.

Scott went on to star in: The Southerner, The Unfaithful, Cass Timberlane, Flamingo Road, Flaxy Martin, Guilty Bystander, Wings of Danger, and Shadow on the Wall.

He later starred in, The Young One (La Joven, 1960), Bunuel's second English language movie (the first being Adventures of Robinson Crusoe).

In 1950, Scott was involved in a rafting accident. Also during that year, he divorced his first wife, Elaine, who subsequently married writer John Steinbeck.

Since Warner Bros. did not continue to promote his films, he turned back to the stage, and also appeared on television.

During this period Scott remarried and he and his second wife, actress Ruth Ford, had a child together as well (he adopted her daughter from a previous marriage).

He moved back to Austin, where he died from a brain tumor at the age of 51.

In 1968 the Austin Civic Theatre was renamed the Zachary Scott Theatre Center to honor their native son. His family has endowed two chairs at the University of Texas's theatre department in his name. A street at the old airport Mueller Redevelopment in Austin is named in his honor.


  1. Evve Arden was fab in this movie getting one of the best lines. I love when she says Veda has convinced her alligators have the right idea -- they eat their young!

  2. Gilby, I agree.. Eve was fab... Alligators have the right idea -- they eat their young! Was also one of my favorite lines in the movie.


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