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Mommie Dearest is a 1981 American biographical drama film about Joan Crawford, starring Faye Dunaway. This Joan Crawford occupies slot #41 in the AFI's 50 Villains list.
This Oscar-winning actress was Hollywood royalty when she adopted a baby girl in 1939. Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway) was nearing the end of her career, however; the plum roles were less frequent and her publicity was waning. Perhaps to boost her press coverage a little bit, she adopted a little girl whom she named Christina and became a mother after a number of miscarriages.
The little blonde with curls certainly took after her mother, showing a rebellious spirit at an early age. It was then that she discovered just how controlling her mother could be. Joan demanded nothing but perfection from her daughter, as well as the title of "Mommie Dearest" (sincerely). She yelled her daughter into submission, ordering her to swim laps in the pool and to eat rare bloody steak, no matter how tired or disgusted her daughter was of each. Also, she yelled at her and beat her up when there was a little spot in the bathroom.The defining moment of their relationship took place one late night when Joan entered Christina's bedroom, rummaged through her closet, and discovered one of her little dresses on a wire hanger. "NO WIRE HANGERS!" she screamed with rage. Rousing her daughter from her bed, Joan scolded the frightened child and even beat her with the offending hanger. Soon after, Christina was sent to live at a private school. Years later, she would be sent to a convent.
Perhaps the most insulting maneuver by her mother occurred years later when Christina, who had always been a natural actress and studied at school, got work on a soap opera in New York City. Laid up in the hospital with a sudden illness, Christina watched as her mother insisted on replacing her on the show during her sickness. The fact she was supposed to be playing a woman half her age only made it more embarrassing, for Joan and Christina.Based on the book by Christina, Mommie Dearest depicted Joan Crawford as an obsessive, controlling, drunk maniac who could never bear not being the center of attention. Even after Joan tried choking Christina to death, she came to accept her mother's actions to be driven by a self-imposed condition more than by hatred. At the end of her mother's life, she was happy her mother's pain was finally over. And then Christina discovered she was left absolutely nothing in her mother's will. Even beyond the grave, her mom was one major bitch.