Mommie Dearest

"No wire hangers--ever!" That this apparently banal phrase has now achieved something like immortality is a reflection of the unbridled extravagance of Faye Dunaway's performance in MOMMIE DEAREST--every line, every glance, every Crawford-esque tic and mannerism is greeted by howls of gleeful recognition among camp cognoscenti. Joan Crawford (Dunaway, in...read more

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"No wire hangers--ever!" That this apparently banal phrase has now achieved something like immortality is a reflection of the unbridled extravagance of Faye Dunaway's performance in MOMMIE DEAREST--every line, every glance, every Crawford-esque tic and mannerism is greeted by howls of

gleeful recognition among camp cognoscenti. Joan Crawford (Dunaway, in a remarkable makeup job) comes off as a cartoon monster in this over-the-top biopic, which blithely mixes fact, legend, and--especially--elements of Crawford's unique screen persona. The film begins in 1939, when Crawford,

already a huge star but unhappy and childless, decides to adopt two children. It ends with her death, when the grown-up kids are left out of her will. A neurotic, driven perfectionist, Crawford takes her frustrations out on her children--especially the rebellious Christina (Mara Hobel as a child,

Diana Scarwid as an adult)--who are instructed to call her "Mommie Dearest." Largely from Christina's viewpoint, we see Crawford's succession of lovers and husbands, career ups and downs (mainly downs), fantastic egotism, and dependence on and abusiveness toward her children--especially the

infamous scene in which she punishes Christina for using wire clothes hangers instead of wooden ones. Based on the best-selling expose by the real Christina Crawford, MOMMIE DEAREST did poorly upon initial release but has since picked up a dedicated cult following. Needless to say, a number of

biographical facts (Crawford actually adopted four children) are ignored by the screenplay.

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  • Released: 1981
  • Rating: PG
  • Review: "No wire hangers--ever!" That this apparently banal phrase has now achieved something like immortality is a reflection of the unbridled extravagance of Faye Dunaway's performance in MOMMIE DEAREST--every line, every glance, every Crawford-esque tic and man… (more)

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