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March 20, 2010


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Ernest Haller's finest work. Thanks for posting these.


My girlfriend got me the DVD for Christmas, and I've been eagerly looking forward to a fresh look. But of course it's on a pile with many others, not to mention all the VOD, cable and Netflix choices available. And with work and writing, I don't get to watch movies nearly as much as I would like anymore. Luckily, I "wasted" my youth and most of my adulthood (to date) watching everything I could get my hands on, so I've seen thousands of titles, all of which I can enjoy again once my memory starts going.

Scott Nye

I know this doesn't put me with the cool kids in the room, but what movie is that?

Glenn Kenny

@ Scott: It's "Mildred Pierce," hence the title of the post. "Why this, why now?" some might ask. As it happens, My Very Own Lovely Wife herself had not seen it, and as it has been in the news lately (what with the Todd Haynes/Kate Winslet HBO miniseries based on the source material in the works), the idea to bring it out for Movie Night (our joint Saturday night activity if we're not out) was a fresh one. I hadn't seen it in some time, and was a little surprised to see the preponderance of mirror shots it contained. Anyhow, the post title was not an attempt to be cryptic so much as a forced bit of title wordplay...

Scott Nye

Oh, looking at it now I totally see it, but unless I'm already in on it, wordplay is something that will always elude me. Thanks for the clarification - yet another one to the Netflix queue.

Stephen Whitty

The HBO version is going to be interesting to see, particularly as the Curtiz film revised the novel pretty heavily.

Watching the movie again, I'm reminded of how rich the supporting-actor world used to be -- the weaselly Zachary Scott, the continually underestimated Jack Carson. (Not to mention Eve Arden, who brightened every movie she was ever in.)

And re-reading the book -- again, look at the details Cain goes into about the restaurant business, just as he thoroughly explained the insurance game in "Double Indemnity." As a writer, he had a singular interest in how business worked (something the Coens replicated in their own homage, "The Man Who Wasn't There," with its asides on the fascinating early days of ... dry cleaning).

The Siren

These are beautiful. I am not awaiting the HBO with bated breath, to say the least. My guess is that it will try to foreground everything that is below the mirrored surface in the Curtiz film. But then I thought the movie was a vast improvement on the novel, even with Production Code concessions.

Glenn Kenny

Siren: This really is a perfect film of its kind, as they say. Watching it the other night for the first time in a while, I was blown away (and actually learned a lot from) its furious momentum, its determination to barrel over varied middling plot holes and implausibilities and keep both the twists and the emotional punches fresh and powerful. And I adored the knowing perfunctoriness of the ostensibly hopeful final shots.

Giles Edwards

Will Haynes bring the same aesthetic fortitude to all things period that he did in FAR FROM HEAVEN (albeit as less of a direct and passionate pastiche)?

At the very least, his mindset has me intrigued at a retelling of one of my very, very favourite melodramas (noirs? Women's pictures?...?) Even if the casting of Winslet as mother to Evan Rachel Wood is....bizarre.

Whatever, PIERCE is glorious, I'm guessing your Lovely Wife enjoyed it immensely? What a *great* double bill it makes with THE RECKLESS MOMENT, as well...

Glenn Kenny

@ Giles: Claire did very much enjoy "Mildred," thanks for asking. I get the feeling more than a few things might make a great double feature with "The Reckless Moment!"


Whenever My wife and I encounter bad service in a restaurant we say to each other what Mildred Pierce could bring to this place


I don't know. I like Curtiz visually (see above), but that's about all I like about Mildred. It's very station to station (or plot point to plot point), he doesn't have much to say about these people or the complications in which they find themselves. And everything's so overdetermined. Take Veda. She's not a person, she's just this monster, and a pretty uninteresting one at that (speaking of which, how anyone could call this a feminist film's beyond me). Everytime she has a line, especially early in the movie, it's this little potted portent of what a brat she'll turn out to be. She complains about a dress that Joan bought her; cue the ominous "this girl is no good" music. She tells her little sister she should stop playing baseball and it's like this little foreshadowing of Veda's snobbery/obsession with buying expensive clothes. Not that, you know, there's any reason Curtiz shouldn't put his cards on the table and make little Veda's wickedness a big surprise, I just don't like the "hint hint, she's bad" quality. That's the difference between this and a Preminger noir, Preminger doesn't hint that Simmons is bad in Angel Face, hint that Ferrer is up to no good in Whirlpool, he tells you right away and then he explores those people. Even if you say, "fine, but that's not what this movie's about, it's a furious plot machine"... I'm still not sold, I see the furiosity but to me it's just such an unmoving pile-on of parasitic playboys and evil children and sundry other sorts of woe that beset Saint Joan.

Glenn Kenny

Well, Asher, that's one reason you wouldn't call Curtiz an auteur in the Sarrisean sense; he didn't bring the perspective, or the personal investment, to his projects the way a Preminger did. Curtiz accepted his assignments and shot them in his high style, while Preminger, and other "The Far Side of Paradise" types brought their overall artistic concerns to their projects in more encompassing ways. How well "Pierce" works for you I suppose depends on how much you empathize with Crawford's character/performance. But even if you don't, the film's a very effective delivery mechanism for melodramatic noir sensationalism!

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