Mildred Pierce is the ultimate film noir murder mystery. Under Michael Curtiz's direction, the movie's stellar cast wallows in 1940s glamor. The set design, the lighting, the wardrobes and yes the story are a compelling and fascinating watch. Joan Crawford could chew on scenery like none other and her larger than life portrayal of Mildred is matched line by line by Ann Blyth's over the top characterization of Mildred's horrific daughter Veda. Throw in Zachary Scott for beefcake and Eve Arden for comic relief and it's a winner all around.
Mildred Pierce was adapted from James M. Cain's 1941 novel of the same name. In order to get the film made, Warner Brothers altered the story pretty significantly. They downplayed the sexual carryings on and played up the violence. Cain's novel is as much about the Depression and Prohibition as it is about they dynamics of a hard working mother and an ungrateful daughter and neither of those topics get touched upon in the Warner Brothers film.
Over the weekend, I learned that HBO has remade Mildred Pierce as a five-part mini-series that will premiere in the spring of 2011. The cast looks interesting and there was enough material left out of Cain's novel to make a brand new Mildred Pierce. Kate Winslett play Mildred and it will take me a while to get used to seeing her as such I have to admit. Guy Pearce plays the penniless playboy Monty and that's some great casting.
What give me hope for this movie is that it's being directed by Todd Haynes.
Todd Haynes made 2002's Far from Heaven, a movie I say is the best film of the 21st century so far.
With Far from Heaven under his belt, he proved that he can handle a period piece. And how. Wow, that movie is as beautiful to look at as it is devastating to watch.
So I'll be curious to see what Kate Winslett does with the character of Mildred Pierce and even more curious to see what Haynes does with Can's novel. What ever happens, get ready for a 1940s revival to counter the current craze for all things Mid Century Mad Men.