Mommie Dearest, released
in 1981, was a biological drama about the life of Joan
Crawford (starring Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford). The
movie received mixed reviews at the time of its release,
with some heavy hitters, like Roger Ebert, being less
than king (he wrote “I can’t imagine who would want to
subject themselves to this movie”). On the other hand,
some critics praised the movie, saying Faye Dunaway
nailed Joan Crawford. Regardless of the mixed reviews,
the movie was a financial success, and has become a bit
of a cult classic.
This movie was intended
to demonstrate that living with a famous person is not
all it is cracked up to be. She manages to squeeze in a
number of superfluous tirades during her daily rituals,
and the housekeepers keep their distance when possible.
Unable to have her own biological children, Joan adopts
a girl (Christina) and a boy (Christopher). She exacts
her personality and peculiarities on them, until
Christina begins to rebel.
As Joan’s career begins
to wind down, her behavior gets more and more aggressive
and unpredictable. After one particular episode where
she physically attacks Christina in a front of a
reporter, Joan decides to send Christina to a boarding
school. As the years go on, the kids grow up and
continue their lives, as does Joan. In the end, Joan
passes away, and the kids learn she has gotten the last
word by cutting them out of her will.