When her adoptive mother Joan Crawford died in 1977, erstwhile actress/author Christina Crawford and her brother Christopher were left out of Joan Crawford's will, "for reasons which are well known to them." Industryites have… More When her adoptive mother Joan Crawford died in 1977, erstwhile actress/author Christina Crawford and her brother Christopher were left out of Joan Crawford's will, "for reasons which are well known to them." Industryites have suggested that it may have been this posthumous act of rejection rather than an alleged lifetime of parental abuse that inspired Christina Crawford to pen her scathing autobiography Mommie Dearest. The 1981 film version of this tome was evidently meant to be taken seriously, but the operatic direction by Frank Perry and the over-the-top portrayal of Joan Crawford by Faye Dunaway (whose makeup is remarkable) has always seemed to inspire loud laughter whenever and where-ever the film is shown. According to the film (and the book that preceded it), Joan Crawford was a licentious, child-beating behemoth, who stalked and postured through life as though it was one of her own pictures-more Strait-jacket than Mildred Pierce. This is the film with the notorious "wire coat hanger" scene, just in case you need a reminder. Surprisingly, one emerges from Mommie Dearest with more sympathy for the monstrous but intensely vulnerable Crawford than for her whining daughter (played as an adult by Diana Scarwid, and as a child by Mara Hobel). Our favorite scene: Joan Crawford dazedly replacing her ailing daughter in the cast of a daytime TV soap opera.
Consensus: Director Frank Perry's campy melodrama certainly doesn't lack for conviction, and neither does Faye Dunaway's performance in the title role; unfortunately, it does lack enough narrative discipline to offer much more than guilty pleasure.