Mommie Dearest: Hollywood Royalty Edition – DVD Review



Frank Perry


Faye Dunaway……….Joan Crawford
Diana Scarwid……….Christina Crawford (adult)
Steve Forrest……….Greg Savitt
Howard Da Silva……….Louis B. Mayer
Mara Hobel……….Christina Crawford (child)
Rutanya Alda……….Carol Ann
Harry Goz……….Alfred Steele
Michael Edwards……….Ted Gelber
Jocelyn Brando……….Barbara Bennett
Priscilla Pointer……….Mrs. Chadwick
Xander Berkeley……….Christopher Crawford (adult)

Paramount Pictures presents Mommie Dearest. Written by Frank Yablans & Freank Perry and Tracy Hotchner and Robert Getchell Based on the Novel by Christina Crawford Running Time: 128 minutes. Rated PG Originally released in 1981

The Movie:

This film was not well received when it was first released and I’m not sure why, this film is amazing! Faye Dunaway doesn’t just play Joan Crawford she completely embodies her. I don’t think anyone could have played Crawford half as well.

After Joan Crawford died her daughter wrote a tell-all novel revealing how terrible her childhood really was. Since it was so soon after her death many people criticized the book saying that Christina was just bitter because Joan cut her children out of her will. When the film was released it received much of the same criticism, saying that Joan Crawford was demonized in her depiction here with all her OCD and other “issues” in full swing.

Part of why this film was shunned is that “stars” weren’t looked at like this back then. If someone was a Hollywood Star they were looked up to. For someone to come along and say, “Hey, my mom wasn’t all she was cracked up to be,” was unheard of. It’s done all the time now. This film was groundbreaking, one might say.

However, years later, we can look at this film without any bias and look at it as just a film, perhaps a little over the top, but all in all, truly a great film.

While Faye Dunaway is definitely the main reason to see this film, but she most certainly isn’t the only reason. It’s a well-made film on every level, the acting is good all around, Mara Hobel is fantastic as young Christina. And the casting of both Christina’s is amazing; Mara Hobel looks just like Diana Scarwid, whose performance is great as the older Christina.

The story of Joan’s life is well told covering many facets of her life. You see her dealing with Hollywood and the business world as well as her children. You really grow to see Joan Crawford through her children’s eyes and learn to fear her. And even with all the bad moments there are good ones too like the night Joan wins the Oscar.

There are many memorable scenes in this film. Like when Joan finds young Christina dressing up like her, Joan freaks out and starts cutting off all Christina’s hair. Or when Joan gets fired from MGM and she cuts up her rose garden in the middle of the night. “Tine, bring me the axe!”

Then there’s the one of the greatest scenes put on celluloid. When Joan finds one of Christina’s dresses hung on a wire hanger, this upsets Joan greatly. She throws all of Christina’s cloths out onto the floor, finds a second wire hanger and proceeds to beat her with it screaming “No Wire Hangers, Ever!”

When the film bombed upon it’s original release the studio tried to pass it off as a camp picture and while there a moment or two that do go over the top, for the most part there’s nothing “campy” about Mommie Dearest.

Perhaps it should have been called the “No wire hangers!” Edition.

SCORE: 9.5/10

Mother and daughter making nice for the cameras.

The DVD:

The Video:

The film is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1. This film looks really good. I saw the previous DVD release and this one is better.

Score: 10/10

The Audio:

This film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 & Mono. (also in French) I don’t think they needed to make this film 5.1, but whatever, it sounds great.

Score: 9/10


Audio Commentary by John Waters: “There’s no better movie than this kind of movie when your home alone on a Saturday afternoon… with a slight hangover.” This is just one of the many gems you’ll get from director John Waters in this great commentary. Waters also points out that this film is much like a film Crawford herself might have acted in. He also points out the moments where they did go “a bit” over the top.

The Revival of Joan: This interview with Producer/Co-writer Frank Yablans talks about his love of Joan and why he wanted to make this film and why he decided to write it as well as other aspects of getting the film made: casting etc. He also talks about how authenticity is important to him.

Life With Joan: In this one Frank Yablans talks about how Faye Dunaway took on the mannerisms of Joan Crawford while making the film. Rutanya Alda who plays Joan’s assistant, Carol Ann, talks about how in the scene where they are rehearsing for Mildred Pierce Faye actually slapped her face and they had to do three takes. Other great behind the scenes stories are revealed here.

Joan Lives On: With interviews from John Waters, Christina Crawford, Joan Crawford impersonator and others, this featurette talks about the gay communities love of the film, Faye Dunaway’s refusal to talk about the film and the authenticity the film attempted to convey.

NOTE: It’s obvious that the only film of Joan’s they got the rights to use in these featurettes is Johnny Guitar cause it’s the only film of hers that they show footage from in any of these.

Photo Gallery

Original Theatrical Trailer I LOVE old movie trailers. They just don’t make them like they used to.

Score: 9/10

InsidePulse’s Ratings for Mommie Dearest: Hollywood Royalty Edition
(OUT OF 10)