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Mother Love: Molly Haskell and Robert Polito on Mildred Pierce

Portraits of family dysfunction don’t get much more brutal than Michael Curtiz’s 1945 Mildred Pierce, which features Joan Crawford in an Oscar-winning performance that revived her career. Adapted from James M. Cain’s psychological novel, the film injects hard-boiled suspense into the story of the eponymous heroine (Crawford), who works tirelessly to build a life of social stability for her cruel and ungrateful daughter Veda (Ann Blyth). In the clip below, excerpted from a new conversation on our release, critics Molly Haskell and Robert Polito explain how this classic upends the conventions of the women’s picture and how the toxic mother-daughter relationship in the film compares to the one in Cain’s novel.

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