Ace noir psychodrama, packing in an impressive amount of sly statements about class and gender without ever forgetting that it should be an entertaining mystery nightmare played to the hilt. The pacing zips along—especially if you made it through the 6 hour HBO version—and the visuals play wonderful games with shadows. What's this I hear about Curtiz not being considered an auteur?
Mildred Pierce is a film that is beautiful to look at, thrilling to watch the first time around, and deeply satisfying to rewatch--Michael Curtiz creates fully embodied male and female characters, who sustain shockingly organic and complex relationships with one another. But MP's treasure is Joan, in the role Jeanine Basinger called a personification of "the totally capable but truly furious American woman."
3,5 Like Wyler, Curtiz is part of Hollywood system and this film show it. Still, instead of Casablanca (for example), you have the usual domain of the techniques with a twist (especially in the dialogues and in the use of shadows and mirrors). So yes this film deserves the recognition against the usual negative emphasis in is linear flashback composition or in is usual resource to consecrated elements in noir cinema.
This movie seemed to have the idea that if a woman seeks independence, she will only be met with negative consequences. Mildred never really made decisions for herself. They were either made for her family or her husbands (both she did not marry for love and neither treated her well). And in the end, she clung to her ex husband after they arrested her daughter. Curtiz did not form a very heroric protagonist.