Mildred Pierce dotes on her daughters while husband Bert looks to Maggie Binderhof for affection. They soon divorce, leaving Mildred to raise the girls on her own. Elder daughter Veda goads her mother about their lack of money and in response Mildred proposes opening a small restaurant. Realtor Wally Fay advises her while making numerous rebuffed passes and introduces her to Monte Baragon whose property becomes the first of a chain of restaurants. Mildred has an affair with Monte. Meanwhile, money-hungry Veda pretends to be pregnant by wealthy Ted Forrester in order to bilk his family of $10,000. Mildred tears up the check, is slapped by Veda, and orders her daughter to leave. After time away, Mildred returns to find Veda singing in a cheap club. Veda will return only if Mildred promises luxury, so Mildred agrees to marry Monte in exchange for a third of her businesses. It soon becomes clear that something is going on between Veda and Monte. Mildred learns of this only after Monte has sold out his third of the her business leaving her bankrupt. She goes to Monte’s beach house to kill him… Shots ring out, but what really happened? —IMDb
Michael Curtiz was one of Hollywood’s most prolific and colorful directors. Born to a well-to-do Jewish family in Budapest, he ran away from home at age 17 to join a circus, then trained for an acting career at the Royal Academy for Theater and Art. He worked as a leading man at the Hungarian Theatre before directing stage plays and then films. His first cinematic effort was Az Utolsó Bohém (1912), which was also the first feature-length film ever made in Hungary. Curtiz soon moved on to the more progressive Danish film industry, returning to his homeland in 1914 and serving a year in the Austro-Hungarian infantry before resuming his film career. While it may be arguable that Curtiz was Hungary’s finest director, he was certainly its busiest, making no fewer than 14 films in 1917, most of which starred his first wife, actress Lucy Dorraine. When the Hungarian film industry was nationalized by the new communist government in 1919, Curtiz packed his bags and headed for Sweden… read more
Skims over parts of the story but reasonably effective nonetheless. It's pretty obvious that Mildred's business acumen and work ethic include sex as part of the exchange of value in negotiating her path to security and wealth. Matter of factness about this seems common to early films about strong women. Ida, played by Eve Arden, added humor while demonstrating that Mildred wasn't an anomaly in this film world.
The story is sometimes a bit weak, but everything else was superb. This is Crawford's show and we never forget it. She and everything that surrounds her is photographed beautifully. The lighting and the cinematography are incredible, an endless source of inspiration. I really love these old Hollywood classics. They capture mood like nothing else.
It has been said "Hollywood never makes movies about women." This film is a rebuttal. Mildred Pierce is a complete human being who easily outflanks the insipid men with vim and vigor, with machismo. While her goals have nothing to do with finding a man, they are, ironically, obsessed with coddling a useless, mercenary daughter. Watch for the delightful scene where Mildred and her female manager share a whiskey.
Naturally, today’s brief roundup has to feature the trailer for White Christmas.