Cast and Crew: Michael Curtiz (Director); James M. Cain (Novel); Jack Carson, Butterfly McQueen
What It’s About: After she breaks things off with her husband Albert (Bruce Bennett) over his lost job, inability to find more work, and the affair he’s having with Mrs. Biederhoff (Lee Patrick), Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford) must find work to support her two daughters (Ann Blyth and Jo Ann Marlowe). After restaurant hostess Ida (Eve Arden) gives her a chance as a waitress, Mildred expands her neighborhood pie selling business to supplying restaurants. Eventually Pierce buys a restaurant and is extremely successful-but she can never please her eldest daughter Veda, who is rotten to the core and begins to tramp around the socialite scene. Eventually all of this leads to Mildred being mixed up in a murder.
Why Watch it Today?: Today is Distaff Day, traditionally the day on which women resumed their chores after Christmas, named for the distaff, a tool used in spinning flax or wool. Mildred is the ultimate working woman-taking care of her two daughters as a single mother, and working her way from pie baking to restaurant owning, and ultimately getting mixed up, Film Noir style, in a murder, no less. It’s an engaging, well made film, with Joan Crawford putting in an Oscar-winning performance, (even if, she was still looking glamorous in beautiful dresses even when playing a downtrodden single mother). Mildred Pierce also racked up Best Supporting Actress nominations for Eve Arden and Ann Blyth (and they deserved them), Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay (Randall MacDougall) and Best Cinematography (Ernest Haller).