Film Bitch History
Oscar History

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

Powered by Squarespace
Don't Miss This!


Comment Fun

We're celebrating ALADDIN (1992) 

"Abu is a strong example of a non-verbal sidekick, but I think the animators outdid themselves with the magic carpet's communication. It's such terrific character work using just animation and score." - Cash

"I was Jafar for Halloween and my neighbors had a stereo surround CD player and we listened to the Jafar Prince Ali reprise all the time." - Jakey

Keep TFE Strong

We're looking for 500... no 461 Patron SaintsIf you read us daily, please be one.  Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience



Ritesh Batra on Photograph


Wanuri Kahiu (Rafiki)
Jia Zhang-ke (Ash is Purest White)
Christian Petzoldt (Transit)
Richard E Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)
Toni Collette (Hereditary)
Glenn Close (The Wife)

What'cha Looking For?
« The Smackdowns. A History | Main | What Becomes a Legend Most? On "Mommie Dearest" »

Best Shot Visual Index: Mommie Dearest (1981)

For our April Fools tradition of celebrating 'bad movies we love' (last year it was Can't Stop the Music) we opted for Frank Perry's ill-fated but extremely memorable Mommie Dearest (1981). The film, which was quickly adapted from Christina Crawford's 1978 best-selling memoir (published just a year after her famous mother's death), starred Faye Dunaway as the great movie star and Mara Hobel and Diana Scarwid as Christina, Steve Forrest as Crawford's longtime boyfriend Gregg Savitt and Rutanya Alda as Crawford's loyal assistant Carol Ann. The book was controversial in its day, with many stars defending their former co-star but the stories stuck in the public consciousness and the movie lives on in infamy. It was greeted with much derision, winning multiple Razzies (the entire principle cast just listed was nominated in their individual acting categories) but Dunaway's work, oft-quoted and beloved to this day in certain communites (ahem), has always had its share of valiant defenders.

Paul Lohmannn (Nashville, High Anxiety) was the director of photography and here are the films most memorable or "best" shots, according to participants around the web.

13 images chosen by 14 blogs
Click on the images to read the corresponding articles 

In Mommie Dearest, we're not seeing Joan Crawford as she was. We're seeing her through several filters..."
-Dancin Dan on Film 


Dearest Miss Crawford Ms. Dunaway, I felt that an old-fashioned fan letter is just the sort of gesture reminiscence of Classic Hollywood that you would appreciate..."

- The Film's The Thing

The film is at its best, in fact, when it's focusing on Joan and her relationship with celebrity and fame, rather than the tawdry details of her family."
-The Entertainment Junkie 

I've spent the whole afternoon sick to my stomach and terrified that I just can't do camp anymore."
-Antagony & Ecstasy 


Whatever the Real Joan Crawford felt for the Real Christina may never been known. But Movie Joan has a clear resentment for Movie Christina."
-Video Valhalla 

The fact that it's so unrepresentative of the film and their relationship as a whole is why I picked this moment."
-Sorta That Guy 

She’s like the shark in Jaws... She smelled the blood and now she’s going to go for it." 
- Where Are The Advertisers

This movie could be the greatest movie of all time, if it weren't so clearly one of the worst."
- Fistful of Films

I had never seen Mommie Dearest before, but being a child of pop culture, I've certainly seen the infamous "No wire hangers!" scene spoofed and referenced hundreds of times..."
-Queerer Things 

Ultimately, this dishonor – fuck the Razzies – is a cornerstone of the film’s so-bad-it’s-good camp classic legacy...
-Paul Outlaw 

This shot right here is filled with bone-chilling intensity..."
- I Want to Believe

For a moment what the film needs is not a stronger director but an exorcist."
- The Film Experience 

The thing is -and I feel a little bad for Christina saying this- that nobody cares about the abuse she suffered as a child..."
- Coco Hits NY

While Joan (definitely) failed as a good mother, her resilience as a Hollywood star and later a Pepsi executive are to be admired" 
- Drink Your Juice, Shelby


NEXT WEDNESDAY NIGHT ON BEST SHOT: Because Joan deserves balance, the feminist western Johnny Guitar (1954). Won't you join us? Joan is pretty great in it.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (19)

"...and clean up this mess!"

April 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw


almost 50% of the participants chose something from the wire hanger sequence.

April 1, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

as per usual i'm having great fun reading these articles. thanks to all the participants.

April 1, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I wish I could've at least tried to find something outside the wire hanger sequence but it sucked me right back in and nothing else really came close.

btw, my closet is FILLED with wire hangers.

April 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck.

I was one of the few who didn't pick a shot from the wire hanger scene, but man that scene is THE scene of the film though.

April 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

You missed mine!

Another shot from the wire hanger scene.

April 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSquasher88

"The thing is -and I feel a little bad for Christina saying this- that nobody cares about the abuse she suffered as a child..."

This is so true. Cristina presented herself, both in the book and in interviews as so unlikable, that you find it hard to feel sympathy for her. Empathy perhaps, but certainly not the sympathy an abused child should instantly call forth. There are moments when you feel for Joan who seems to have come to the end of her rope with this demon she is responsible for.

April 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Such a great post. I have always thought that Faye Dunaway is kinda great in this movie. She put every ... single ... thing she had into her performance. But everything else about the movie is so low rent - the other "actors" (Mara Hobel is the epitome of bad child acting), the makeup (the eyebrows, holy shizzballs, the eyebrows!), the editing, etc. Why hire a Cadillac in Faye Dunaway if you are going to employ a Yugo for every other part of the movie? They might as well have just gotten Soupy Sales to play Joan.

April 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCharlieG

I just want to let it be known that I ALMOST chose one shot from the opening sequence - of Joan's closet. The shoes. OMG THE SHOES. That space would make Carrie Bradshaw positively green with envy.

April 2, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

"The thing is -and I feel a little bad for Christina saying this- that nobody cares about the abuse she suffered as a child..."


I'm dying!!!

April 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

Andrew: You have to keep in mind that it was Cristina's word against a dead woman. Her only support was her brother while her other siblings (also adopted) all claimed she made it up and that Joan was a wonderful mother. No one, no one at all, could confirm her claims. Doesn't mean it wasn't true, but it leaves room for doubt.

There was also an issue with the will which I believe cut Cristina and Christopher out (but that might be wrong). In any case, the book smelled a lot like sour grapes.

Were Cristina and Christopher damaged goods? Definitely. But did Joan do the damaging........

Without evidence to substantiate the claims, it is her word against her dead mother which never really set well with anyone at the time.

April 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Mara Hobel has the most world-weariest "Jesus Christ!" in this film.

April 2, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

This is all hysterical, I'm rolling around in it. I'm only sad I didn't get to join in but I had no time in the end.

As for the real story aspect, it's horrible that she remembers her time with her mother as abusive but if any of it is even remotely true (and I suspect some of it is, just based on numbers) then Joan is clearly to blame. Being cut of the will kinda speak volumes tho, doesn't it? She clearly didn't like Christina or didn't know at all how to deal with her at all, which is weird since her other kids seemed fine. Then again, they ended up living comfortably in mommy's riches.

April 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

What exactly were the terms of Crawford's will? Did she leave her other two adopted kids (not seen in the movie) the bulk of her estate, or were they also cut out "for reasons which are well known to them"? Since we never see Christopher as anything more than a scared little boy (and not a demon child), the movie implies that Joan disinherited him and Christina because she always espoused hard work as a way to get and retain wealth, but with no one else in the picture (in the movie) it's all open to interpretation, of course. In any case, Christina successfully contested the will, according to a very interesting article about the 2008 reissue of her book.

April 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Great choices! Would love for you to do Klute for this series.

April 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Paul Outlaw: Thanks for the link to the article.

If I remember correctly, Cathy and Cindy were the principal heirs and got the bulk of the estate. There was a very famous auction of her belongings (including plastic covered furniture) in NYC but I don't remember if it was before or after the book.

April 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Steve -- i am obsessive about Klute so that would be fun. not sure why i haven't done it.

April 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Did a little research. Supposedly the twins got about $77,000 each of the 2mil fortune she left. The rest was distributed between various charities. She made a point of stating in the will that she was disinheriting both Cristina and Christopher. I didn't find anything about Cristina's challenge or what she got as a result.

April 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

These shots are utterly fantastic. I adore this film, pus-filled warts and all. I believe Anne Bancroft was originally offered this part, and she said she wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole LOL. Faye is extraordinary in this.

April 3, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>