Now in its 13th year, the program features several new prints preserved by the foundation and the UCLA Film & Television Archive.The series is hosted by the foundation’s Eddie J. Muller and Alan K. Rode. For more info, visit: http://bit.ly/ebV4uM.
There is much to see at this year’s fest (28 films total) and top on my viewing list are:
“High Wall” (1947, Curtis Bernhardt)
“The Hunted” (1948, Jack Bernhard)
“The Two Mrs. Carrolls” (1947, Peter Godfrey) and “The Dark Mirror” (1948, Robert Siodmak)
“Journey into Fear” (1943, Orson Welles)
“Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” (1950, Gordon Douglas)
“A Woman’s Secret” (1949, Nicholas Ray)
“Caught” (1949, Max Ophuls)
“Framed” (1947, Richard Wallace)
“Gaslight” (1944, George Cukor) and “My Name is Julia Ross” (1945, Joseph H. Lewis)
One way ticket to Noirville: Viewers of HBO’s “Mildred Pierce,” directed by Todd Haynes, may be interested to know about a bus tour of the Los Angeles venues that inspired James M. Cain, author of the novel on which the series and the 1945 film were based. Read Sean Macaulay’s story at: http://bit.ly/enRyfV.
London anyone? According to Playbill: “London’s Arts Theatre has announced details of its summer program, which will include the world premiere of AntonBurg’s Bette & Joan, which will star Greta Scaachi and Anita Dobson in the title roles of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, respectively.” Read more at: http://bit.ly/f8kghH.
HBO’s “Mildred Pierce” mini-series, directed by Todd Haynes and based on James M. Cain’s 1941 novel, starts this Sunday.
In director Michael Curtiz’s 1945 movie version of the book, Joan Crawford won the Oscar for her portrayal of the title role in the ultimate story of a self-sacrificing mother and her ungrateful child, Veda (Ann Blyth). Mildred’s hard-earned success as a restaurateur allows her to support not only her family but also her aristocratic and cash-poor love interest Monty Beragon (Zachary Scott).
In Haynes’ mini-series, Kate Winslet stars as Mildred, Guy Pearce plays Monty and two actresses share the Veda role: Morgan Turner as the girl and Evan Rachel Wood as the young woman. Haynes and Jon Raymond wrote the teleplay.
In many ways, the series, which follows the book more faithfully than the 1945 movie and covers nearly 10 ten years in the characters’ lives, is a delight to watch. Depression-era Southern California is beautifully recreated and shot by Edward Lachman. Carter Burwell’s original music is spot-on as is Ann Roth’s costume design. And the acting is excellent, particularly the leads.
Whereas Crawford’s Mildred is stoic and dignified, Winslet’s is sensitive, wistful, often tentative and unsure of herself. Her expressive features suggest her mounting anger, guilt and desperation as her business grows but her relationships deteriorate.
Early on in the series, Winslet’s Mildred identifies in her daughter a “pride or nobility I thought I had” and we glimpse the complexity and closeness of her bond with Veda. The mother-daughter relationship in Haynes’ five-hour version is perhaps more nuanced than in Curtiz’s film.
Pearce easily inhabits the playboy scoundrel Monty and Wood sizzles as the junior miss femme fatale. As the story unfolds, we learn that Mildred and Veda also have very similar taste in men. This year’s supporting actress Oscar winner Melissa Leo and Mare Winningham are quite good as Mildred’s friends.
A disappointment, however, is James LeGros’ insipid performance as Pierce family “friend” Wally Burgan. In Curtiz’s version, the role as played by Jack Carson – conniving and sly, but charming – was one of the movie’s many strengths.
Another downside is the pacing, which is far too slow. It would have benefited from shaving about an hour, especially in the beginning. But then if Haynes’ aim was to be true to every page of the book, he has succeeded.
I prefer Curtiz’s original because it is canonical film noir, in tone, look and story. Granted, Cain’s book was altered because in 1940s Hollywood, immorality was never allowed to triumph. Instead of the evil-doers leaving California to begin a new life in New York, one is fatally shot and the other eventually is punished. The murder sets the story, told via flashback, in motion and lends an edgy suspense.
Still, Haynes did not set out to make a noir; apparently his aim is to explore the subtext and subtleties in Cain’s novel. Cain was, arguably, sympathetic toward his feisty protagonist (what choice does she have but to establish independence and security, given the weak and deceitful men she has to choose from?). But she pays a dreadful price for doing so and the book decries materialism, the class system and social climbing. As for Cain’s ultimate take on Mildred’s power, in Hayne’s work, there is fodder for both sides of the argument.
Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce walked the red carpet Monday night in New York at the premiere for HBO’s “Mildred Pierce,” directed by Todd Haynes and based on James M. Cain’s novel. The mini-series starts Sunday. The 1945 movie version of the book stars Joan Crawford in the title role.
Look book: Magazine illustrator, Roger Vivier consultant and former Chanel model Inès de la Fressange shares her style secrets in “Parisian Chic” out next month. In addition to fashion pointers, the book includes tips on living well, 70 pages of her favorite places to go in Paris as well as ideas for entertaining at home, and who does that better than the French?
A sample de la Fressange maxim: “A true Parisian is not looking to snag a billionaire husband. She is uninterested in spending for its own sake and sporting the labels to show for it.”
Read more and see highlights on savvy and soigné Shana Ting Lipton’s site, Chic Trek.
Newness to me: I recently discovered the elegant site NOWNESS, which features “stories influencing contemporary culture and global lifestyle, previewing the latest in fashion, gastronomy, art, film, music, design, travel and sport.” Part of the Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton family, the site notes that all content is editorially independent. Bella Freud, Bret Easton Ellis, Joan Juliet Buck and Daria Shapovalova are just a few of the contributors.
Most of the men in 1945’s “Mildred Pierce,” starring Joan Crawford, are “heels” as Mildred’s friend Ida (Eve Arden) puts it. But they could all learn a few things from Mildred’s venal and grasping daughter Veda (Ann Blyth), who enjoys taunting her mother in French and taking what she thinks should be hers – pretty much anything that’s not nailed down.
Maybe Veda was misunderstood in the stoic, stiff-upper-lip era of post-World War II America. If she’d come of age in the ’80s or later, she’d be a classic material girl, albeit with a few little boo-boos that warrant a criminal record. And it’s entirely possible that as child she was terrorized by Mildred’s ubiquitous and intimidating shoulder pads. Couldn’t we cut Veda a little slack?
I chose Veda as a nickname for my impossibly demanding and sometimes vicious cat whom I rescued from a shelter. Try as I might to shower her with attention, cater to her every need and lavish her with the finest cat food, treats and toys, she’s quite likely to lash out and give me a scratch for no reason at all. She’s just a natural-born bitch.
So, à la director Jim Jarmusch who founded the Sons of Lee Marvin Club for tall, deep-voiced dudes who like to watch Westerns, my kitty and I launched the Daughters of Veda Pierce Club, for women and pets who keep their claws sharp and aren’t afraid to use them. We’re designing a line of T-shirts, clothes, jewelry, toys and accessories for our members, except we don’t want to do any of the actual work or put up any of our own money.
I saw “Mildred Pierce” for the first time nearly 20 years ago on a Sunday afternoon in my small, studenty London flat – pale gray walls, Venetian blinds, a Victor Skrebneski print opposite the TV.
Just before the opening scene unfolded – a shooting in a shadow-drenched California beach house with a sinister vibe – I remember popping a batch of popcorn in oil on the stovetop and making American lemonade (fresh lemons, sugar and water). Such wholesome snacking for the decadence on the little screen.
Directed by Michael Curtiz, “Mildred Pierce” is based on James M. Cain’s 1941 novel, adapted by Ranald MacDougall with uncredited help from William Faulkner. Joan Crawford plays the title character, a wife and mother, who tries to buy the love of her spoiled and ungrateful teenage daughter Veda (Ann Blyth). Her younger daughter Kay (Jo Ann Marlowe) is easy to love, but Mildred is determined to win Veda over as well.
Hubby Bert Pierce (Bruce Bennett) doesn’t think Veda is worth it and they break up over Mildred’s intense maternal devotion. Some subtexters theorize that Mildred’s love has romantic overtones; I don’t think there’s a strong case for that.
Mildred works as a pie-baker and a waitress, then opens a chain of restaurants to pay for Veda’s clothes, music lessons and extravagant taste. Problem is, nothing’s ever good enough for the Everest-level high-maintenance Veda. “I can’t wear that rag,” she snarls, upon seeing a dress Mildred bought for her.
Besides sniping at loved ones and spending their money, Veda enjoys hatching blackmail plans and singing in sleazy nightclubs. So it’s no shocker that she also has designs on Mildred’s new love interest Monte Beragon (Zachary Scott). Monte is an aristocratic playboy who’s always short of cash but really rather useful for Veda’s plan to become patrician.
No matter what, Veda sinks her serpent’s teeth deeper and deeper into Mildred’s flesh, which, by the way, at 40, was still very shapely. Curtiz wisely gives Crawford plenty of opps to show off her gams. And her little hats, tailored suits and ankle straps are the picture of retro chic.More
What obstacle can’t be overcome with the help of ankle straps and padded shoulders? The incomparable Joan Crawford makes this her mantra as she attempts to give her greedy daughter everything her heart desires. Big mistake, hugely delightful movie, directed by Michael Curtiz.