Mommie Dearest | Chicago Reader

Mommie Dearest

No one would mistake this stiff, shoddy 1981 biopic of Joan Crawford for a “good” movie, but in terms of issues—movies, melodramas, mothers and daughters—it's rich, stimulating thought in spite of itself. Frank Perry was a poor choice to direct (Robert Aldrich and Paul Morrissey would have been more appropriate), yet his gross inadequacies somehow help the film—the bad laughs he gets push it into black comedy, which is what the audience wants. The dominant tone is that of a horror movie as it might have been produced by soap opera king Ross Hunter in the 50s: lots of elegant clothes and settings, weirdly linked to a shock rhythm of tension and release. It's a movie dream turned into a movie nightmare, a wonderful idea the film doesn't know it has. With Faye Dunaway and Diana Scarwid.

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