Joan Crawford won the Oscar for playing mother and career woman Mildred Pierce.
Mildred begins very normally. She is a doting housewife, whose husband has the wandering eye. She divorces him, and soon sets out to raise her daughters by herself. Mildred is the type of woman who will sacrifice anything to please her daughters, which the story in motion when she wants to open up her own restaurant.
There's always been a problem I've had with Joan Crawford, and that's sometimes she's too obvious in her acting. When a scene calls for an emotional outburst or connection, Joan fails to deal with the character's emotions and ends up looking like she's overacting. And, she does this many times as Mildred, especially in these early scenes with her husband.
Her best scenes, for me, come when she shares the screen with Ann Blyth, who is deliciously bratty as her daughter. The two share such electricity together. I also think Joan was great in the career woman scenes, which were scenes that fit Joan well, since I think of her a tough woman, not a doting housewife like in the beginning.
This is perhaps the role Joan Crawford is most remembered for today, and it certainly fits what she was known for the most, her tough, unforgiving persona she showed in many other movies, and it hit peak form here.
But, as I said before, it's not perfect. Those early scenes really hurt the overall impact of her performance, but she still gives an entertaining performance. She has many great scenes, she might suffer from the fact I think Ann Blyth steals their scenes most of the time, but she is still able to hold her own up against her.
Many moments of greatness, but sometimes lack the intrigue of what her performance could have been.