Paramount Presents: Mommie Dearest 40th Anniversary Edition
review by Bobby Blakey
Some of the worst kept secrets are those behind closed doors especially in families. Even more so when they are in the public eye and everything appears to be picture perfect. In 1981 director Frank Perry brought the film Mommie Dearest to the big screen based on the book about Joan Crawford, one of the great Hollywood actresses of our time, written by her adopted daughter Christina Crawford. The film stars Faye Dunaway, Diana Scarwid, Mara Hobel, Rutanya Alda and Steve Forrest. Now the film is making its way on Blu-ray through the Paramount Presents collection for its 4oth Anniversary.
Mommie Dearest follows Joan Crawford who is one of Hollywood's biggest stars in 1939, but she tells boyfriend lawyer Greg Savitt that she isn't content living in her Brentwood mansion with just her devoted secretary Carol Ann and housekeeper Helga. Greg arranges for Joan to adopt a baby girl. Joan names her Christina and promises "to give her all the things I never had." But Joan is obsessed with perfection, and Christina finds it impossible to live up to her mother's standards.
I honestly thought I had seen this movie years ago, but after re-watching I realize I don’t think I had ever seen it all the way through. This is a chaotic movie in the whirlwind mood swings Dunaway portrays Crawford had. It is a brilliant and had to be exhausting performance by the actress and no doubt one of the best ever. It keeps you on the edge of
your seat in the sense you keep waiting to see what the next thing that’s going to set her off. The rest of the cast are great as well, but this is Dunaway’s show all the way. There are some dated elements to the performances which was common to old Hollywood and part of the charm of it all that cements it as a classic along with her brilliant performance.
I was concerned to how well it would hold up, but to my pleasant surprise it does very well thanks mostly to it being a period piece already taking place in the 30s but shot in the 80s. The costumes and visuals are great with some truly creepy lighting at times and memorable tones that sets this film apart all its own. It is no surprise that this film holds such high regard and still holds up as pure film brilliance today.
This latest release not only includes the fully restored film which is enough of a reason to add it to your collection, but also bonus content including commentaries, trailer, photo gallery, and featurettes on bringing this tragic Hollywood story to life. Grab your copy of Paramount Presents: Mommie Dearest available now on Blu-ray from Paramount Home Entertainmnet.