Confession---i'm a bit of a snob when it comes to covers of songs and re-makes of movies. Usually don't care for either. my view is if you can't bring something unique or deliver as strong a performance as the original work my attention wanders. To begin with i have a short one [attention span] so fairly or not, the listening/viewing is usually over before it has begun. But there are exceptions to every rule and in the case of Todd Haynes' reworking of Mildred Pierce i can't wait. i applaud anyone having the courage to tackle the project.
The 1945 version based on the James M. Cain novel has a cameo appearance by Butterfly McQueen and starred Joan Crawford f'cryin'outloud. i am a huge fan of Ms. Crawford and as far as i'm concerned she can do no wrong [on the screen anyway]*shrug*. In HBO's 2011 5 part mini-series adaptation, Academy award winner Kate Winslet delivers such a powerful performance it is not only worthy of the same praise Crawford garnered it may even be [dare i say it] better. Evan Rachel Wood is perfection as Mildred's daughter Veda and Guy Pearce is great as lecherous parasite Monty. The production was shot in Peekskill NY, but the sets, costumes and cinematography capture the look of the the story's setting, the California coast, and the story's time [the '30's and '40's] beautifully.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Mildred Pierce lives in an era when it was not the norm for a woman to divorce, be a single parent, or work outside the home, let alone own her own business. Mildred was roaring before the Helen Reddy anthem was penned, and she roared loudly. Mildred came from humble beginnings, and naturally, wanted something more for her children, Veda and Kay. Mildred becomes a successful restauranteuse [but not without cost---hey sometimes a gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta do] and acquires the means to give her daughters the finer things in life. Veda, an original material girl, turns out to be spoiled, cruel, manipulative, scheming, elitist, and a steam-roller over anyone who stands between herself, money, fame, and ultimately a high standing in society. Not that there's anything wrong with ambition, but Veda leaves a trail of bodies
on her path to success. Not even her mother is spared Veda's cruelty, but because Mildred is so desperate to have her daughter's love she forgives her humiliations and indiscretions.
So get comfy, and break out the snacks and the tissues. TCM is airing the 1945 Mildred Pierce on Saturday March 26th at 8:00pm
HBO's 5 part Mildred Pierce mini-series begins on Sunday March 27th at 9:00pm. Please check your local listings.