Mommie Dearest

The movie that made "No wire hangers!" a household phrase, Mommie Dearest is the very model of a modern "camp classic," so crazily outlandish that it's fascinating. Based on the scathing and scandalous tell-all bestseller by Christina Crawford, the adopted daughter of histrionic Hollywood movie queen Joan Crawford, Mommie Dearest was billed in advance as a serious dramatic motion-picture biography. But it turned out to be something much, much weirder--a genuine Hollywood oddity that serves up a bizarre mixture of melodramatic trash and outrageous tragi-comedy. Joan Crawford won an Oscar for playing the role of the self-sacrificing mother, the woman who would do anything for her daughter, in Mildred Pierce. As depicted by Faye Dunaway (playing the hell out of the role as if she's determined to win another Oscar of her own, damn it!), her role as offscreen parent puts her in a league with big-time scary screen mommies such as Mrs. Bates in Psycho, and Angela Lansbury's über-mom in The Manchurian Candidate. Dunaway's Crawford torments and terrorizes her adopted children in myriad ways--making them give away their own birthday gifts and rousting them from their beds for frantic after-midnight bathroom-scrubbing attacks. And when, after the death of her Pepsico chairman husband, Crawford tells the board of directors, "Don't f--- with me, fellas!" one is very much inclined to heed her warning. --Jim Emerson

Genre: Biography, Drama
Production: Paramount Pictures
  9 wins & 11 nominations.
 
IMDB:
6.7
Metacritic:
55
Rotten Tomatoes:
56%
R
Year:
1981
129
6,385 Views

Young Christina:
[in Joan's room, looking into the mirror, imitating her mother] Oh yes, it was thrilling. So grateful to you all, my wonderful fans, who made me a star. Oh yes, it was thrilling. So grateful to you all, my wonderful fans, who made ME a STAR. [notices her mother standing behind her] ...Mommie!

Joan Crawford:
What do you think you're doing?

Young Christina:
Nothing. I'm just... I'm just... playing.

Joan Crawford:
What do you mean, "playing"? Are you going through my things? Making fun of me?

Young Christina:
I wasn't making fun of you. I was just trying to... I was acting, play-acting, like you're always doing.

Joan Crawford:
Look at yourself. [takes a metal hair accessory out of Christina's hair and throws it on the table angrily, and then grabs a hairbrush and begins to frantically try to brush the product out of Christina's hair.

[Having failed to brush the setting lotion out of Christina's hair, Joan begins to cut off all of Christina's hair]

Christina Crawford:
[crying] Oh, Mommie, I look awful!

Joan Crawford:
I know you look awful! YOU BE QUIET! YOU'RE ALWAYS RUMMAGING THROUGH MY DRAWERS, TRYING TO FIND A WAY TO MAKE PEOPLE LOOK AT YOU! WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS LOOKING AT YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR? WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT? TELL ME! You sit still now! This'll teach you! You're vain, spoiled!

Young Christina:
[sobbing] Mommie, I can't go to school like this!

Joan Crawford:
I'D RATHER YOU GO BALD TO SCHOOL THAN LOOKING LIKE A TRAMP!

Young Christina:
No, Mommie, please don't! Mommie, I can't go to school like this...

Joan Crawford:
You spoiled it! Why? YOU SPOILED IT JUST LIKE I SPOILED YOU!

Louis B. Mayer:
Joan, my Joan, you're in a position to do me a favor that will be as big a favor for you as it is for me.

Joan Crawford:
You don't have to ask! You only have to tell me.

Louis B. Mayer:
Good. I want you to leave Metro.

Joan Crawford:
Leave Metro? Leave Metro?

Louis B. Mayer:
Your pictures one after another are losing money. Theater owners voted you "box office poison". Still for years I've paid no attention. You know me, Joan. I don't give up so easily. We'll pay you off on your contract. But you can't afford to make three or four more losers for us.

Joan Crawford:
It's the scripts, L.B. Bad pictures, bad directors...

Louis B. Mayer:
Bad with you, good with others.

Joan Crawford:
No, listen to me L.B., I have been BEGGING YOU... begging you for a good script. Now you've always given me my share of bad movies because you knew I'd make them work. Well I can't keep doing it, L.B.!

Louis B. Mayer:
Listen with your ears and not with your pride. With me, feeling is more important than money. You're a great star! You're Hollywood royalty! But styles change. You'll leave. We have 'creative differences'. Other studios will think they're smarter than L.B., they'll try to finesse me. You'll be offered two, three, four films. You may even get a hit!

Joan Crawford:
[in tears] Will you be sorry then?

Louis B. Mayer:
I'm sorry now. But here there's no feeling, no hope. New faces, new voices, breath of fresh air, who knows. Don't do this to yourself.

Joan Crawford:
I'll have my maid and studio people clear out my bungalow. I've got a lot of years to collect.

Louis B. Mayer:
It's done, Joan. They've packed your things, they're loading your car.

Joan Crawford:
You mean everybody already knows?

Louis B. Mayer:
That we parted friends because we didn't agree.

Joan Crawford:
Will you walk me to my car? [L.B. doesn't answer] "Hollywood royalty".

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