HTF REVIEW: "Mildred Pierce" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Jan 20, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
    Owner

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    49,205
    Likes Received:
    5,987
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    [​IMG]

    Mildred Pierce





    Studio: Warner Bros.
    Year: 1945
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 111 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)
    Subtitles: English, French and Spanish




    A mother's love leads to murder.


    Perhaps Warner Bros. was initially cautious about
    releasing it's B&W library to a younger generation
    of DVD owners who might not appreciate the value
    of these films. Count me in as an individual who
    couldn't be more excited about the recent crop of
    classic releases coming out of the studio vaults.
    For the first time, I am discovering films that
    entertain me far better than most of the theatrical
    fare I have seen this holiday season. What I have
    always heard still remains true -- they don't make
    films like they used to
    .

    First and foremost, I'll admit that I have never
    watched a Joan Crawford film before. What I know
    about the actress stems from her adopted daughter's
    scathing biography turned to film, Mommie Dearest
    that depicts Crawford as a cruel and abusive mother.
    Though I have no opinion on the facts of that
    biography, everything I have read about the actress
    seems to indicate that Joan Crawford was the
    ultimate movie star -- a true professional -- with
    a successful career that spanned 45 years beginning
    in 1925 and ending in 1970.

    At the time Crawford was under contract with MGM,
    she was playing mostly youthful roles. Although
    she was the highest paid actress in Hollywood,
    Crawford felt the studio wasn't taking her career
    seriously enough, feeling she was losing popular
    roles to other actresses. As a result, by 1942 she
    was seeking a contract with Warner Bros. which she
    was able to secure. From thereonin her career took
    an upswing. She began playing more serious roles
    as a mature strong-willed woman. Mildred Pierce
    was the very first role of that kind and her triumphant
    return to the screen earned her an Academy Award
    for Best Actress.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    As the film opens, we find that a wealthy young
    man, Monte Beragon (Zachary Scott), is shot in
    cold blood. We find Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford)
    running from the scene of the crime. In a brilliant
    scheme, she sets up her old friend Wally Fay (Jack
    Carson), to take the rap. When the police take
    Mildred in for questioning, the truth about the
    murder begins to unfold.

    Through flashback, we learn that Mildred was
    married to a man named Bert (Bruce Bennett) and
    that both were struggling to raise their two
    daughters, Veda and Kay (Ann Blythe & Jo Ann Marlowe).
    With Bert out of work and finances low, it wasn't
    long before the couple decide to divorce. The only
    thing left in Mildred's life are her two daughters
    and she decides she will do whatever it takes to
    give them the very best. This means taking on
    a job as a waitress which she tries to hide from
    her oldest daughter, Veda. When Veda finds out that
    her mother has succumbed to waitressing, she begins
    to show the sort of disrespect that continually
    grows into a poisionous relationship.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    This is a story of how Mildred turned her talents
    into a successful restaurant business while juggling
    three men in the process. The only thing that
    prevents Mildred from achieving complete success
    and happiness is her scheming spoiled brat daughter
    Veda, surely one of the most scathing adolescents ever
    to appear on film.


    How is the transfer?


    This film looks so beautiful on DVD that I couldn't
    help but do research on who the film's cinematographer
    was. It wasn't long before I came up with the name
    Ernest Haller. This B&W transfer gorgeously brings
    out Ernest's use of lighting and shadows that
    contributed to this film noire. Warner Bros. has
    put together an all-new digital transfer from restored
    picture elements and the result is nothing short of
    an immaculate print with fine detail, excellent
    contrast and an extremely smooth background. There
    is narely a sign of film blemish to be seen anywhere.
    Another true representation of how beautiful B&W
    films really are.

    [​IMG]

    The restored mono soundtrack is also quite good,
    sounding more full-bodied than overly shrill. Audible
    hiss is kept to an absolute minimal and unless you
    turn the audio up high, you'll never notice it.


    Special Features

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Warner Bros. has released Mildred Pierce as
    a dual sided DVD with the film feature residing on
    Side A and Special Features on Side B.
    My complaint to the studio is that it's too easy to
    confuse the sides. There are no markings on the DVD
    that state which side is which, that is, unless you
    squint to see the fine markings along the inner edge
    of the disc that indicate "A" or "B". I guarantee
    every one of you who rents or buys this disc will be
    in the same state of confusion as I was.

    [​IMG]

    Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Movie Star is
    a newly produced 85 minute Turner Classic Movies
    documentary from filmmaker Peter Fitzgerald. Narrated
    by Angelica Huston, this documentary tells of
    Crawford's rise from obscure MGM contract player
    and dancer Lucille Le Sueur to one of the most loved
    and successful leading ladies of the 20th century.
    Not only do friends, film historians and fellow
    actresses remember the lady for her triumphs, but
    there are also those like her daughter, Christina
    Crawford and director and former lover Vincent S
    herman, who paint her in a very negative light.
    Still, through rare footage, photographs and
    vintage newsreels this documentary manages to put
    a very positive light on the personal and
    professional life of one of the greatest movie
    actresses who ever lived. This entire featurette
    is broken down into chapters so you can easily
    access any era of her career that interests you
    the most.

    Since Warner Bros. is very proud of Crawford's
    career with that studio, they have included no less
    than nine original theatrical trailers of
    legendary Crawford movies from 1945-1962.

    A Cast and Crew page gives you access to
    a complete bio of Joan Crawford's film career and
    an Awards page is dedicated to the honors
    that Mildred Pierce received.


    Final Thoughts

    [​IMG]

    Determined to prove to MGM's L.B. Mayer that she
    truly had talent, Mildred Pierce solidified
    her status as Hollywood's most powerful leading
    actress. Anyone, like myself, who is discovering
    some of the greatest film classics of our time owes
    it to themselves to get to know Joan Crawford and
    Mildred Pierce.

    A sensational transfer and the inclusion of the
    complete 85-minute Turner documentary makes this
    a highly reccomended release.



    Release Date: February 4, 2003


    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
     
  2. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 19, 2001
    Messages:
    1,568
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Excellent, Ron! Have just placed my pre-order!
     
  3. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2002
    Messages:
    6,546
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Yes YES YES!
    Bring on the classics!
    while it would be great if WB could give us a nice handful of material like this every month; excellant, restored transfers of great films go a good ways to salving the never-ending itch .

    after A Little Romance, this was the next title i was most looking forward to.
    glad to hear its up to WB usually excellant a/v standards!
     
  4. Agee Bassett

    Agee Bassett Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2001
    Messages:
    922
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    For financial reasons, I've lately had to put purchasing DVDs on hiatus. After reading your sparkling review, Ron, of one of my favorite movies of the '40s, it has has suddenly become immensely harder to keep those priorities straight. :b

    So glad to hear the transfer apparently does sterling justice to the film's magnificent cinematography (thank you, WB!). Truly one of the most stylish and entertaining films of its day. [​IMG]
     
  5. Mike_S

    Mike_S Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2000
    Messages:
    176
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Geez, Ron. I knew MILDRED PIERCE was coming out and I really didn't think I'd be picking it up, but your review changed my mind. The transfer sounds great and the supplements alone make this a worthwhile purchase. I'm also a sucker for a good 'film noir'. Great review (as always).

    -Mike
     
  6. Zane Charron

    Zane Charron Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2000
    Messages:
    458
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Damn, Ron's reviewing up a storm. I'm so glad that Warner is doing good work with their classic catalogue films. I'll be picking this up.
     
  7. Jefferson

    Jefferson Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2002
    Messages:
    979
    Likes Received:
    20
    Trophy Points:
    0
    [​IMG]
    I've never seen this film look so good. Amazing.
    Eve Arden is great in this, as Mildred's wisecracking friend.
     
  8. Chuck L

    Chuck L Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2001
    Messages:
    1,002
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Ron...Wonderful review and can't wait to add this to my collection.

    On a personal note, since you bring it up in your review, am I the only one that feels that the legend of Joan Crawford as a child beater, is only heighten because of her films. In this I mean that it almost seems that Christina, when writing the book of her 'life', that she did research by watching many Crawford's film. There are many scenes which almost seem like a mirror between the relationships of Vita and Mildren as to Joan and Christina. There will we never know the otherside of the story, it does seem, maybe only to me, that Christina was living her life through the films of her mother.
     
  9. Thomas T

    Thomas T Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    3,188
    Likes Received:
    1,382
    Trophy Points:
    4,110
    Chuck, though no doubt exaggerated, Christina's account of Crawford the mother is hardly a fantasy lived through her mother's films. Her story is backed up by other people who knew Crawford like Helen Hayes, Melvyn Douglas and Kirk Douglas among them.

    Of course, the creepy thing is ..... if they knew what was going on, why didn't they do anything about it?
     
  10. Douglas R

    Douglas R Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2000
    Messages:
    2,123
    Likes Received:
    467
    Trophy Points:
    1,610
    Location:
    London, United Kingdom
    Real Name:
    Doug
    MILDRED PIERCE is the quintessential Joan Crawford film and the photography and lighting are exemplary. I'm really looking forward to getting this. What I don't understand is why so many people have no interest in what they dismiss as "old black and white movies". What's wrong with them?
     
  11. Jefferson

    Jefferson Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2002
    Messages:
    979
    Likes Received:
    20
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I've noticed this too.
    Before the advent of home video, a "film buff" was more often someone who absorbed themselves in the classics or film history.
    But today that term can mean something quite different.
    Or, maybe there were always two groups: those who only collect/watch modern, popular movies and those who also enjoy the classics or the offbeat. Here is what I don't understand: the VHS world was flooded with the older films. I didn't expect DVD to be different, but it is.
    It couldn't help that titles like MILDRED PIERCE are not stocked by the majority of chainstores where many buy DVDS.
     
  12. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 19, 2001
    Messages:
    1,568
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Well, the dislike of black-and-white films is just another prejudice. And like all prejudices, it's pretty senseless and rather pointless.
     
  13. MichaelGH

    MichaelGH Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2002
    Messages:
    76
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I'm really looking forward to this release. I realized after looking at the screenshot's in Ron's review that I remember watching this film growing up but it was in color. I feel truly blasphemous if I was watching a colorized movie without realizing it. I truly cannot wait to see this film as it was meant to be seen. I love film noirs also and don't have enough of them in my collection.

    Great review Ron!

    Michael
     
  14. Jefferson

    Jefferson Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2002
    Messages:
    979
    Likes Received:
    20
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Yes, i think there was a colorized version of this in the 80's.
    Carol Burnett did a great spoof of this on her show as well. Brilliant.
     
  15. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2002
    Messages:
    5,748
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I just today watched my VHS copy of Mildred Pierce, and now I simply MUST have the new DVD!!

    Simply stated: "Mildred" is a truly outstanding motion picture experience!! I was riveted to my seat for the entire 1-hour, 51-minute film!

    Like Ron, I had never viewed this film before. Boy! How stupid is that?! [​IMG]

    I cannot rave enough about this picture! The opening shadowy scenes with Joan Crawford and Jack Carson are remarkable! The DVD version can only enhance this great photography.

    Carson, by the by, is fantastic in "Mildred". As is a quite young-looking Eve Arden.

    Also keep your eyes peeled for one of the best "screen slaps" I've seen in a while! Joan is belted a good whack by that brat of a daughter of hers (immaculately portrayed by Ann Blyth). Can someone say "Bad Seed"?!! [​IMG]

    Indeed, Blyth is as bad a seed as Patty McCormack turned out to be. (In yet another great B&W film that deserves the DVD souped-up treatment...1956's The Bad Seed.)

    If you've never seen "Mildred" before, do yourself a huge favor and do so.

    The DVD cannot arrive TOO soon for this excited Mildred fan! [​IMG]
     
  16. BarryR

    BarryR Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2000
    Messages:
    652
    Likes Received:
    67
    Trophy Points:
    610
    Location:
    Earth
    Real Name:
    BARRY RIVADUE
    Talking of "Bad Seeds," I'm not sure if THESE THREE (1936) is out on DVD; it stars Joel McCrae, Merle Oberon and Miriam Hopkins, but it's 13 year-old Bonita Granville's absolutely terrifying portrait of a bullying, duplicitious girl that makes an indelible impression. I saw it on TCM recently and it's an outstanding performance. It's a Samuel Goldwyn production, released through United Artists, so I'm not sure if MGM now has it or not.
     
  17. David Tolsky

    David Tolsky Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 1999
    Messages:
    638
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Damn Ron, you're actually starting to sound like a real film scholar [​IMG] A true film buff will not dismiss the classic b & w films. Ron, if you've never seen Night of the Hunter (the original Mitchum version directed by Charles Laughton) you must see it. It will make you fall in love with the movies all over again. I believe it's the only movie Laughton ever directed and masterfully shot by the extremely talented Stanley Cortez, A.S.C.
    As for Mildred Pierce, I can feel the bills leaving the wallet already...
     
  18. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
    Owner

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    49,205
    Likes Received:
    5,987
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    A film scholar I'll never be.

    I really have to an extensive amount of research
    before reviewing many of these classic DVD titles
    so I have some sort of history to interject into
    the review.

    I also find myself occasionaly making mistakes
    along the way (see my review of AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER).

    One thing is for sure -- I get more excited when
    GOOD classic film material comes to my door over
    the recent "A" Hollywood fare.
     
  19. Douglas R

    Douglas R Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2000
    Messages:
    2,123
    Likes Received:
    467
    Trophy Points:
    1,610
    Location:
    London, United Kingdom
    Real Name:
    Doug
    I've just got this and must say that Warner Bros have done a fantastic restoration job. The film looks brilliant. The Turner documentary is also excellent with masses of information. I love old trailers so I was particularly pleased that Warners have included nine Joan Crawford film trailers on the disc. A really great film and a great disc. Thanks Warners - keep them coming!
     
  20. Roger Rollins

    Roger Rollins Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2001
    Messages:
    931
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I finally got MILDRED on DVD today, and I was even more knocked-out by this package than I thought I'd be.

    Ron's early review ,and others I've read online, were encouraging, but I have seen this film dozens of times, and NEVER have I seen it look anywhere near this good. It is a gorgeous transfer, a testament to the unique talents of its cinematographer, Ernest Haller, and one of my favorite directors, Michael Curtiz.

    This is Joan Crawford's finest hour, and the Warner people have certainly done her justice, not only by giving MILDRED this spiffy new polish, but with the whole DVD presentation.

    The documentary is very well done, and a refreshing change from those peripheral sing-songy docus that usually pop up on older films (like Fox's yawny ALL ABOUT EVE piece made for AMC). The guilty pleasure of this release is the collection of Crawford's WB trailers that are presented on the "B" side along with the docu. Each one is nifty, and a hell of a lot of fun.

    I echo all the positive sentiments in this thread with a cheers for this superb release. I can't wait to watch it again!
     

Share This Page