Sunday, April 13, 2008

Mildred Pierce (1945)

You think just because you've made a little money you can get a new hairdo and some expensive clothes and turn yourself into a lady. But you can't, because you'll never be anything but a common frump, whose father lived over a grocery store and whose mother took in washing. With this money, I can get away from every rotten, stinking thing that makes me think of this place or you!
~"Veda" to "Mildred" in Mildred Pierce (1945) 
 Mildred Pierce, a 1940's film noir which has been described as "just about the most glittering piece of trash ever made," contains amid the melodrama some hard truths, not only about modern American society, but about the fatal repercussions of inordinate attachments. Mildred's neurotic need to win her child's approval and affection by lavishing material possessions upon her does nothing but create a monster. Part of this was an attempt to remedy her own deprived childhood by making certain that her daughter has everything she wants; Mildred is not the first nor the last to pursue this course of folly. Once again it is seen that money cannot buy happiness; in Mildred Pierce it buys only misery.

Mildred is a gifted businesswoman who makes a fortune with honest toil but she is totally hapless in her choice of men. For one thing, her choosing and discarding of husbands and boyfriends is too often colored by Mildred's primary obsession with pleasing Veda rather than her genuine feelings for the gentlemen involved. While it is beautiful for a mother to make sacrifices for her children, if Mildred's love for Veda had been more balanced, she would have given her the needed correction before the little vixen got out of control.

But for all of her errors in judgment, Mildred has a sense of honor, which gives her infinitely more class than spoiled Veda could ever have. Mildred might indeed be "a common frump whose mother took in washing" but she is more of a lady than that smug and condescending snob. Perhaps the gist of Mildred Pierce is that there are few things in this world that are more repugnant than an ungrateful child.


Alan Phipps said...

This is one of my favorite films ;)

elena maria vidal said...

It is definitely my favorite Joan Crawford film. And Ann Blyth, who was in reality a very sweet girl, did a great job as the horrible Veda.

Alan Phipps said...

Absolutely - I had read that Ann Blyth and her husband (now deceased) were members of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, but I haven't been able to confirm that. May God bless her.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes. That would not surprise me. I know that Ann was Catholic and took her faith very seriously.

Victoria Madrid said...

Veda is so horrid, and Mildred so desperate for love in this flick. It's painful yet you can't avert your eyes. Must! Watch!

To add to your lessons from the film:
* Have boundaries.
Having a close relationship as parent and child means also respecting these.
* Know why you're working so hard. Poor Mildred is working hard just so Veda can have nice things. Probably not the best reason for working hard. I mean, I'm not knocking good things, but there needs to be more there.
* Be careful about who you spend time with.
Mildred's choice of men? Not so great. So, when betrayal comes,it's not really a surprise. Just sad.

Love chatting about old movies. Thanks so much for posting about one!