At first reading James M. Cain’s novel of the same title might not suggest screenable material, but the cleanup job has resulted in a class feature, showmanly produced by Jerry Wald and tellingly directed by Michael Curtiz.
It skirts the censorable deftly, but keeps the development adult in dealing with the story of a woman’s sacrifices for a no-good daughter. High credit goes to Ranald MacDougall’s scripting for his realistic dialog and method of retaining the frank sex play that dots the narrative while making the necessary compromises with the blue-pencillers.
Story is told in flashback as Mildred Pierce is being questioned by police about the murder of her second husband. Character goes back to the time she separated from her first husband and how she struggled to fulfill her ambitions for her children.
The dramatics are heavy but so skillfully handled that they never cloy. Joan Crawford reaches a peak of her acting career in this pic. Ann Blyth, as the daughter, scores dramatically in her first genuine acting assignment. Zachary Scott makes the most of his character as the Pasadena heel, a talented performance.
1945: Best Actress (Joan Crawford).
Nominations: Best Picture, Supp. Actress (Eve Arden, Ann Blyth), Screenplay, B&W Cinematography