HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Disappearance at Clifton Hill
Sullivans, The
Piranhas
Love in the Afternoon
Black Water: Abyss
Wild Blue Yonder, The
All Hail the Popcorn King
Muriel, or the Time of Return
Selma
Great Locomotive Chase, The
American Anthem
Lion and the Horse, The
Druids
War of the Wizards
Onward
Doctor Faustus
Spite Marriage
Mask, The
Letter to Jane
Quick Millions
Dream Demon
Max Havelaar
Radioactive
Glastonbury Fayre
All Dogs Go to Heaven
Shoot Out
Da 5 Bloods
Sonatine
Kung Fu Monster
Secret Agent Super Dragon
Saint Frances
Boiling Point
Golden Stallion, The
Dragon Force
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch
Luck of Ginger Coffey, The
Junkers Come Here
Ladius
White, White Day, A
Strong Medicine
   
 
Newest Articles
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
The Beat Goes On: Takeshi Kitano Collection on Blu-ray
Dream Treats: Scorsese Shorts on Blu-ray
It's Only Money: Laughter in Paradise on Blu-ray
A Regular Terpsichore: Dance, Girl, Dance on Blu-ray
Teenage Trauma: Baby Love on Blu-ray
The Happening: Pet Shop Boys It Couldn't Happen Here on Blu-ray
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
   
 
  Mommie Dearest The Biggest Mother Of Them All
Year: 1981
Director: Frank Perry
Stars: Faye Dunaway, Diana Scarwid, Steve Forrest, Howard Da Silva, Mara Hobel, Rutanya Alda, Harry Goz, Michael Edwards, Jocelyn Brando, Priscilla Pointer, Joe Abdullah, Gary Allen, Selma Archerd, Adrian Aron, Xander Berkeley
Genre: BiopicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 3 votes)
Review: Back in the early nineteen-forties, Hollywood star Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway) seemed to have everything: a successful career, countless adoring fans, and a healthy bank balance. But, as she confesses to her boyfriend Greg Savitt (Steve Forrest), there is one thing she wants, and donating to orphanages isn't satisfying her anymore, no, what she wants is a child of her own. Greg is sceptical, yet Joan argues that she has never been able to carry a baby and adopting one will make all the difference in the world. However, as a divorcée who has a busy workload, she is turned down by the agency - not that this will put her off...

That's right, what Joan Crawford wants, she gets in this notorious biopic based on a book written, according to this film anyway, as a form of revenge by her adopted daughter Christina. There could well have been a motive of score settling about Mommie Dearest, but the movie backfired spectacularly on those who made it when on its release it was greeted not with gasps of shock at the abusive nature of a beloved star, but gales of laughter at what on the screen came across as hysterical camp. Soon Joan had a new legion of fans who relished this image as a "mean mother", and the film went down in bad movie history.

Alas, it didn't do much for Dunaway's career, as while she was patently acting her socks off to make this barrage of emotional turmoil convincing, all audiences could see was demented scenery-chewing from a star who had previously been considered a class act. The makeup she wears is very well crafted, which only goes to leave the impression we're not watching a recreation of real life, but the actual Joan Crawford playing the role of an unbalanced movie star in a Hollywood melodrama. It's difficult to know how this could have been avoided, as after all with famous performers their image is indelibly stamped on the works they produce, but it didn't need to have been embraced with quite so much gusto as it is here.

Therefore the comedic elements are utterly uninentional, yet far too obvious to anyone watching this from a distance somewhere outside the orbit of the filmmakers. The fact that Mommie Dearest (even that title sounds ripe for parody) is played with such a straight face, frequent grimaces of anger apart, merely enhances the laughter, and has the opposite effect that Christina wanted as it makes her mother a heroine. A pattern emerges where Joan will suffer a setback and tear up, as when she is sacked from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for being "box office poison", a tenderly presented scene which is then followed by a hilarious sequence where Joan reacts by chopping down the tree in her back garden.

But putting it like that makes it sound as if Joan calmly fells the tree, she does not, she yells and screams and growls "Bring me the axe!" to Christina (Mara Hobel) and destroys rose bushes, all with a crazed fire in her eyes, which does not instil fear in the viewer, but has you falling about laughing instead. The film's most famous part has Joan waking Christina one night by bellowing "NO WIRE HANGERS!" after she discovers the offending clothes hanger in the little girl's wardrobe, thus giving her all the excuse she needs to start flinging dresses about and ordering her daughter to scrub the bathroom floor clean. The way she is here, Joan obviously had some control issues, as the pop psychology goes into effect and we have to judge her actions on her lack of a fulfilling grip on her career reflected in her home life, but Christina's portrayal is not one of a sweet victim, but a spoiled brat out to ruin Joan's fun, as just about everyone else is in this film. With Mommie Dearest, if you didn't laugh you'd cry. Music by Henry Mancini.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 3270 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Frank Perry  (1930 - 1995)

American director who worked closely with his wife Eleanor Perry to create some curious work throughout the sixties: David and Lisa, Ladybug Ladybug, The Swimmer, Last Summer and Diary of a Mad Housewife.

After they divorced in 1970, Frank Perry's work became less interesting, although Doc, Play It As It Lays and Rancho Deluxe all have their fans. Mommie Dearest, his silly Joan Crawford biopic, has fans for other reasons. He was singer Katy Perry's uncle.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
  Hannah Prosser
   

 

Last Updated: