As limited series, The Feud: Betty V.S. Joan, draws to end on FX, Turner Classic Movies has some of Joan Crawford’s and Bette Davis’s best works available for free on demand though Xfinity.
First up is Joan Crawford’s Oscar winning performance as hard working, matronly yet tragic heroine, Mildred Pierce.
This is Crawford’s incredible depiction of an emotionally wounded, driven to the brink by struggle, mother of two, whose crumbling marriage and wayward husband causes her to strive for more than just baking sweets for her neighbors to get by.
As Mildred Pierce, Crawford ushered the way for the concept of ensuing feminism in the proceeding years with this dynamic independent lead. Mildred was a woman who stood up to her cheating husband and put him out! She struggles to get a job in the film’s storyline, but Crawford went head to head against her male costars and gave as good as she got.
This was a revolutionary model for 1940s women, a no apologies business woman that was still able to retain her feminity. Women were normally depicted as buxom damsels in distress or doe eyed ingenues requiring the help of a tall dark stranger, in those de ja vu days.
Mildred’s fierce ambition (at all costs) and fearless independence, saw a single mother rise from separated waitress, to scorned wealthy restaurant chain owner, all against the back drop off the coast of sunny California.
Perfect for empowering young women today, this film has a sturdy cast of strong female characters, each wanting to rise above their station in life, save the youngest, who is lost suddenly to pneumonia.
The underlying 40s messaging, (that a working woman can’t have it all, sacrifice is required, regardless of intention, and in the end, you’ll lose more than what it’s worth chasing dreams rather than facing reality), remains perfectly woven into Classic Film Noir fashion in this heart wrenching dialogue.
Soaring orchestral scores, lavish sets and top of the line fashion for the costumes makes the black and white pop as we gain a glimpse, as things were, back in time.
Mildred’s daughter, Vita, the epitome of the unchecked, spoiled child, also strikes out against the norm as the shameless, status-hungry villianess of this Oscar winning melodrama.
Unable to connect with her mother’s working class pedigree/lifestyle and rotten to the core, Mildred’s desire to please her daughter’s fickle will/heart costs her relationships, her businesses and ultimately, her murderous driving force itself, Vita.
So many themes explored, Mildred Pierce stands the test of time as a lesson for all who watch this nostalgic classic. Never let your ambition get the best of you and curb materialism at its root, as it is a ravenous beast that is never satisfied.
Find Mildred Pierce on TCM on demand, in stores or online watch The Feud: Bette V.S. Joan for Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange’s breathtaking performances of the Hollywood leading ladies.
So, what do you think? Do you like Film Noir Classics? Whom is your favorite, Bette or Joan?
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