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Outrageous and controversial, this is the story of legendary movie star Joan Crawford Faye Dunaway as she struggles for her career and battles the inner demons of her private life. This torment was manifested in her relationships with her adopted children, Christina Diana Scarwid and Christopher Xander Berkeley. The public Crawford was a strong-willed, glamorous object of admiration, but Mommie Dearest reveals the private Crawford, the woman desperate to be a mother, adopting her children when she was single and trying to survive in a devastating industry that swallows careers thoughtlessly. The rage, the debilitating strain, and the terrifying descent into alcoholism and child abuse are graphically - and unforgettably – depicted in this film, based upon Christina Crawford's best-selling book.
The movie that made "No wire hangers!" a household phrase, Mommie Dearest is the very model of a modern "camp classic," so crazily outlandish that it's fascinating. Based on the scathing and scandalous tell-all bestseller by Christina Crawford, the adopted daughter of histrionic Hollywood movie queen Joan Crawford, Mommie Dearest was billed in advance as a serious dramatic motion-picture biography. But it turned out to be something much, much weirder--a genuine Hollywood oddity that serves up a bizarre mixture of melodramatic trash and outrageous tragi-comedy. Joan Crawford won an Oscar for playing the role of the self-sacrificing mother, the woman who would do anything for her daughter, in Mildred Pierce. As depicted by Faye Dunaway playing the hell out of the role as if she's determined to win another Oscar of her own, damn it!, her role as offscreen parent puts her in a league with big-time scary screen mommies such as Mrs. Bates in Psycho, and Angela Lansbury's über-mom in The Manchurian Candidate. Dunaway's Crawford torments and terrorizes her adopted children in myriad ways--making them give away their own birthday gifts and rousting them from their beds for frantic after-midnight bathroom-scrubbing attacks. And when, after the death of her Pepsico chairman husband, Crawford tells the board of directors, "Don't f--- with me, fellas!" one is very much inclined to heed her warning. --Jim Emerson