“Deceit, money lust, sexual jealousy, violence - all the elements of James M. Cain's chillingly nasty novel, ‘Mildred Pierce,' have been preserved in Michael Curtiz's film version. Ostensibly presented as a whodunit in the grand film noir tradition, Mildred Pierce is actually an indictment of a woman determined to overcome the impotence of her middle-class existence. Deserted by her husband and chided by her eldest child for her ‘common' values, Mildred channels her culinary talents towards an amazingly prosperous restaurant career. In her Academy Award-winning performance, Joan Crawford plays the ambitious housewife whose keen business sense and desire for financial security are matched only by her obsession to buy everything - including a wretchedly spoiled vixen of a daughter and a disenchanted dilettante lover on the dole.
“Stylistically considered, Mildred Pierce incorporates all the visual elements of Hollywood's classic '40s dark cinema; compositions assume a fractured, threatening mood via the use of oblique camera angles, harsh linear formations, and brooding light. Narratively speaking, however, Curtiz's film more closely approximates a melodrama with the mother-daughter conflict at the forefront. As the story unfolds, Mildred and Veda's precarious relationship deteriorates into a vicious and hateful rivalry, the intensity of which precipitates the calamitous denouement.”