Sunday, May 10, 2009

but most of all, i remember mama (dearest)

For me, the two greatest debates on the youtubes surrounding Classic Hollywood are Bette vs. Joan, who would have won in a WWE style smack down (my money is on Bette, for the record), and Joan vs. Christina, the latter being far more serious.

I first watched the 80s camp classic Mommie Dearest last summer, and upon first viewing was absolutely appalled that the film was made as it was. Yes, I enjoy Faye Dunaway's performance, and yes, I laugh at some of the classic lines, but beneath this there is the issue of abuse, not to be laughed at because it extends past Joan and Christina to a larger closet full of old hollywood skeletons and unanswered questions.

Really I don't think it did justice to either party. I'm not really a fan of Joan's but it is clear that there are some gross exaggerations (and though I don't know much about this whole ordeal, I DO know that Joan cut Christina out of her will AFTER she wrote the book, so she absolutely had fodder to do so. It was not the other way around) and there are scenes where it is clearly one sided, i.e. the rose bushes scene. Joan gave her blood and her life to MGM, so being put out to pasture must have been a striking blow for her.

The other thing that bothers me about the film is the fact that, even if I think Joan is treated unjustly, and even if these things are exaggerated, it seems obvious that Joan had a bevy of psychological problems and an obsession with her work that made her anything but an ideal parent. Even if I personally don't like Christina Crawford and take issue with some of her accounts, the tragedy of the camp factor is that it makes light of abuse. Even if it looks ridiculous that doesn't make any of it right.

I don't know why on earth this came to me on mother's day, I was just minding my own business, looking at cute pictures of Audrey Hepburn and her chilluns, but regardless of how fictitious it is, it makes me glad that I have a wonderful mother as my biggest fan.


  1. I think the topic is an excellent one to get some insight on at Mother's Day. I am currently reading Detour by Lana Turner's daughter Cheryl Crane. Lana may not have been portrayed as harshly as Crawford, but the book definately makes a statement about growing up in certain households in Old Hollywood. It also makes those of us with fond memories of our parents that much more grateful.


  2. Thanks! And I don't know much about Lana but the whole ordeal with her daughter stabbing Lana's lover just sounds awful, I can't imagine that was a fun home to grow up in either. And absolutely, I definitely appreciate my upbringing.