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Mommie Dearest

Mommie Dearest

4.2 12
Director: Frank Perry,

Cast: Faye Dunaway, Diana Scarwid, Steve Forrest


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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Amy Robinson
Faye Dunaway delivers an unforgettable portrayal of Hollywood screen icon Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest, a cult classic that alerted a generation of film fans to the dangers of wire clothes hangers. The story chronicles, in horrific detail, the actress's relationship with her adopted daughter (Diana Scarwid) who bore the brunt of Crawford's alcoholism, perfectionism, and abusive behavior. Director Frank Perry loosely adapted Christina Crawford's memoirs for the screen; the result is a Joan Crawford who is partly biographical and partly an amalgam of her various on-screen alter egos. The initial box-office failure of Mommie Dearest nearly destroyed Dunaway's career, but she is amazing in the role, managing to generate sympathy and understanding for the film's undeniably grotesque heroine. Most importantly, she has the kind of overwhelming star power that keeps the viewers' eyes glued to the screen. Part horror film, part melodrama, this deliciously perverse and lavishly produced spectacle is high quality camp at its most entertaining.
Barnes & Noble
Photo gallery; theatrical trailer
All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
One of the most difficult roles for an actor to take is that of another actor. The problems that type of role entails are exponentially greater when a movie star plays another movie star. How does someone who has become famous for having a particular persona effectively communicate some other famous person's persona? Faye Dunaway plays Joan Crawford like a woman who is not playing a public persona, but has so contorted herself in order to be famous that she has no idea who she really is. While there is a fascinating psychological problem to play with in that conception, the direction and screenplay are so over-the-top, so full of the prurient thrill of Hollywood Babylon gossip, Dunaway is left out to dry. Very few times in history has an actress worked this hard and been given no help from the director or the other actors. The film is not interested in a character, it is interested in a freak show, and Dunaway so commits to the performance that she elevates the film from forgettable mess into one of the all-time classic turkeys. Many people find it easy to laugh at Mommie Dearest, but Faye Dunaway probably is not one of them.

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Special Features

Closed Caption; Commentary by filmmaker John Waters; The Revival of Joan - How the sensational biography was brought to the screen; Life with Joan - The making of the film with exclusive behind-the-scenes stories; Joan Lives On - The film's cult following with John Waters and Joan Crawford impersonator Lipsynka; Photo gallery; Original theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Faye Dunaway Joan Crawford
Diana Scarwid Christina Crawford
Steve Forrest Greg Savitt
Howard Da Silva Louis B. Mayer
Rutanya Alda Carol Ann
Mara Hobel Christina Crawford as child
Harry Goaz Al Steele
Michael Edwards Ted Gelber
Jocelyn Brando Barbara Bennett
Priscilla Pointer Mrs. Chadwick
James Kirkwood Master of Ceremonies
David F. Price Tony
Dawn Jeffory Vera
Gary Allen Jimmy the Photographer
Selma Archerd Connie
Adrian Aron Wedding Guest
Carolyn Coates Mother Superior
Jerry Douglas Interviewer
Margaret Fairchild Mother Superior at Orphanage
Phillip Richard Allen Pepsi Executive #1
Michael D. Gainsborough Pepsi Executive #2
Matthew Faison Pepsi Executive
Peter Jason Pepsi Executive #4
Robert Harper David
Cathy Lind Hayes Nurse
Virginia Kiser Beth Simpson
S. John Launer Pepsi Chairman
Russ Marin Funeral Director
Nicholas Mele Assistant Director
Belita Moreno Belinda Rosenberg
Warren Munson Lawyer
Alice Nunn Helga
Norman Palmer Male Guest
Michael Talbott Driver
Arthur Taxier Decorator
Joseph Warren Mr. Dodd
Dick McGarvin Tour Bus Driver
David Sanderson Fans
Ian Bruce Assistant Director
Xander Berkeley Christopher Crawford, adult

Technical Credits
Frank Perry Director,Screenwriter
Peter E. Berger Editor
Christina Crawford Screenwriter
Michael Daves Asst. Director
Robert Getchell Screenwriter
Lee C. Harman Makeup
Richard A. Harris Editor
Tracy Hotchiner Screenwriter
Larry Jost Sound/Sound Designer
David Koontz Executive Producer
Paul Lohmann Cinematographer
Neil Machlis Producer
William Malley Production Designer
Henry Mancini Score Composer
Harold Michelson Art Director
Terence O'Neill Executive Producer
Charles Schram Makeup
Irene Sharaff Costumes/Costume Designer
Frank Yablans Producer,Screenwriter

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Mommie Dearest: Hollywood Royalty Edition
1. Joan [2:43]
2. "My Darling Daughter... [6:45]
3. Gifts for the Orphans [1:17]
4. Quiet Sundays and Setting Lotion [2:01]
5. Uncle Greg Disappears [3:20]
6. Box Office Poison [2:42]
7. Rare Meat [9:27]
8. 1946 Academy Awards [3:12]
9. "No Wire Hangers... EVER!" [5:44]
10. Crawford Family Christmas [1:19]
11. The Chadwick School Years [6:39]
12. A Little Extra Publicity [4:51]
13. Mrs. Alfred Steele [5:10]
14. Soap Opera Stand-In [5:18]
15. The Last Word [2:28]


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Mommie Dearest 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
alexphilAU More than 1 year ago
Joan Crawford was a Hollywood legend in her time. She was known for her discipline that made her an idol to many.In the opening scene of this movie, the clock alarm sounds at 4 AM and a woman wakes up from a large bed and proceeds to start her day. She takes off the face tightener and begins to wash her face in steaming hot water. She then scoops two handfuls of cube ice from a basin and apply these to her face. At this point, the viewer feels the ice cold sensation while at the tip of her seat in the theater. That was a powerful scene. Many scenes in the movie are good and you can feel the temper of Joan as a person, specially on cleanliness. I love biographies and this is one I like aside from the british royals. I recommend this for Joan Crawford fans as well as Faye Dunaway fans. Like me, you will love this movie
Rocko_Jerome More than 1 year ago
The only instance I know where you can have ridiculous camp and stunning realism in the same movie, as there's little doubt that life with the Crawfords looked and felt like this. It's amazing, it's classic, and if you don't like this movie on some level, you and I would probably not get along.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Granted the movie is pretty harsh it's a real good movie. Faye is just great so much enthuseasum and the litle girl was fabulous all her little things she became pretty much programed to do. One of my favorite secens is where her daughter wont eat the meat and she tries to make her eat it for days it seems like.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I only wish that Faye Dunaway felt the same as I do about this movie. Her acting, as well as her supporting cast is fantastic and so true to the character you feel like you are right there. Her makeup is flawless, every line brushed perfectly. Hold up a picture of Joan and a picture of Ms.Dunnaway in character as Joan and you can see the dramatic transformation. Ms. Dunaway normally looks very little like Ms. crawford, she also took this role and made it work like noone else could. This is a drama, an American drama. If you want to sugar coat your lives and deny these things happen in the lives of all people then so be it. Joan was beautiful and flawed, we have better systems now for people to get help, but this story is a valid and wonderfully filmed one, with beutiful gowns too,,,
Guest More than 1 year ago
Granted this movie was very harsh and sometimes disturbing, it is so bad it is a masterpiece. It certainly changed my perception of Joan Crawford. The scene where she finds the wire hanger in the closet and goes crazy in the garden saying 'Tina, bring me the axe,' was pure genious.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Faith-Faye Dunaway is a clowness in this role. However, the sets, lighting and all production-the house everything inspired me to dream as big as I do now. A masterpiece in that regard. A kiss, smooch, 1 thumb up~!~
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is very horrific, very sad, and wrong. It is wrong to watch a actress brutally punish her adoptive children. When I saw A.I. (Artificial Intelligence), I thought I would never see a movie more sad and horrible ever. However, this is worst. Kids under the age of 15, I suggset you do not see this movie. It is too horrible.