The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, May 25-31

mildred pierce-joan crawford

Mildred Pierce (1945)
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Working women of the world, unite––with James M. Cain’s titular heroine, that is. In an Expressionistic turn, Curtiz brings the gallant, afflicted Mildred Pierce to the screen, embodied by Joan Crawford in her only Oscar-winning role. Fresh on the lot for Warner Bros. after being deemed “box office poison,” and given Crawford’s alleged history with daughters in particular, her award was a justifiable merit. Playing a resilient mother who after leaving her husband takes advantage of her blue-collar upbringing to go quickly from a waitress to an expert restaurateur, Crawford and her foil, obnoxious, coquettish daughter Veda (Ann Blyth), create a perfectly executed melodrama. Amid a whodunit, the death of a young child and a philandering husband, Crawford’s Pierce encapsulates the timeless balance of perseverance and desperation that so harrowingly affects the division between classes—even today. Samantha Vacca (May 29, 8:45pm; May 30, 4:30pm at Metrograph as part of “James M. Cain Weekend”)

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