Question: What’s a classic film?

Answer: A classic is a film you just can’t stop watching no matter how many times you’ve seen it.

Hello, everybody.  Your Movie Guys from Twitter, Joe Morella and Frank Segers, here again to chat about one of our favorite classics.

Joe has just returned from a trip to OKC.  That’s Oklahoma City to you non-natives of the “Sooner” state (named for those intrepid 1889 settlers who staked their land claims early; they were “sooners” rather than “laters”).

While there Joe went to the museum which was having an exhibit on Hollywood in Oklahoma. More on that in future blogs.  Here’s the point.

Part of the exhibit was running a clip from Joan Crawford’s film Mildred Pierce, a movie we love and have covered in at least two previous blogs (Feb. 16’s Mildred Pierce (AKA Joan Crawford) — The Steamy Book Vs. The Movie Classic and Feb. 17’s Mildred Pierce — The Hot Stuff The Movie Left Out).  

It happened to be the scene where Mildred goes into a restaurant and meets Eve Arden who hires her on the spot as a waitress. Joe was hooked and had to watch until the film ran it’s course.  

MILDRED PIERCE   Time has proven this 1945 film noir a classic. Not just because of the Oscar winning performance by Crawford in the title role, but because of the direction (Michael Curtiz), art direction (Anton Grot and Bertram Tuttle) and photography (Ernest Haller). Those wet L. A. streets!

Every time Joe encounters a good waitress, a really professional waitress, not a wannabe starlet, he realizes how great an actress Crawford was.  As Mildred she went from mother/housewife to novice waitress to professional waitress to businesswoman — with love and sex, betrayal and murder thrown in, of course, with masterly precision. Crawford’s star persona always overshadowed what a really fine actress she was.

Others in the cast are equally good, and were recognized at the time. Both Ann Blyth (as daughter Veda) and Arden (as Ida Corwin) were nominated for supporting actress awards. Jack  Carson (as Wally Fay) was suberb as were Zachary Scott (as playboy Monte Beragon) and Moroni Olsen (as police inspector Peterson).

And let’s not forget the often ignored scriptwriter or, in this case, scriptwriters. No less than seven worked on this adaptation of James M. Cain’s novel.  One was William Faulkner.  Screenwriter of credit is Ranald MacDougall.

(It should be noted that Mildred Pierce was remade in 2011 into a five-episode HBO tv series directed by Todd Haynes and starring Kate Winslet.  If follows the Cain novel more closely in that there’s plenty of sex and betrayal but no murder.  Our advice: stick with the 1945 Crawford version.)

It’s a must see film and CERTAINLY one of the best films Hollywood ever produced. The photo at top is from the film, of course.  The photo below is from The Donald Gordon Collection.  That’s Donald on the right with Joan and her third husband, actor Phil Terry.

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