Mildred Pierce by No One

Mildred Pierce by No One

29 septembre 1945. Le passant solitaire ne sait quel film voir. Appréciant les salles du Strand, il découvre à l’affiche le dernier Michael Curtiz, Mildred Pierce, qui sous couvert du film noir, traite de l’éclatement de la cellule familiale. Pourquoi pas après tout ?

Critique d’époque :

« Joan Crawford is playing a most troubled lady, and giving a sincere and generally effective characterization of same, in the new drama of James M. Cain origin, Mildred Pierce, which the Warners presented yesterday at the Strand. But somehow all Miss Crawford’s gallant suffering, even with the fillip of murder-mystery that was added to the novel by its screen adaptors, left this spectator strangely unmoved. For it does not seem reasonable that a level-headed person like Mildred Pierce, who builds a fabulously successful chain of restaurants on practically nothing, could be so completely dominated by a selfish and grasping daughter, who spells trouble in capital letters.

This Veda Pierce, for whom poor Mildred works the polish off her nails and makes a loveless second marriage with a socially prominent parasite just to give the girl « background, » is as mean and tricky as they come. Yet we couldn’t help feeling that if Mildred had put Veda over her knee twice a day at the age of fourteen she might have grown up rather differently. But no, Mildred showers the brat with kindness, suffers the humiliation of seeing Veda make love to the worthless stepfather and then, in a final burst of nobility – and/or mother love – tries to cover up her daughter’s shame.

If you can accept this rather demanding premise – and there were not a few ladies in the Strand who were frequently blotting tears with evident enjoyment – then Mildred Pierce is just the tortured drama you’ve been waiting for. Michael Curtiz has directed the story with cunning dramatic artifice for most of its 111 minutes, but has let the character of Veda get out of hand. Ann Blyth interprets Veda with such devastating emphasis that she is quite incredible on the whole. She is an even less convincing protagonist on the screen than she was in Mr. Cain’s original chronicle of the tribulations of Mildred Pierce.

It is a tribute to Miss Crawford’s art that Mildred, who is deserted by her first husband and suffers the death of her younger daughter in the home of her wayward spouse’s inamorata, comes through the ordeal as well as she does. Jack Carson is noisy as a brassy friend whose constant pawing of Mildred is not in the best of taste, Bruce Bennett and Zachary Scott are the first and second husbands, respectively, the one being mostly sulky, the other offensively rougish. Eve Arden is her customary hardboiled self, and that’s quite alright with us.

Mildred Pierce lacks the driving force of stimulating drama, and its denouement hardly comes as a surprise, but it is cut from a pattern that has been hugely successful in the past and it probably will be this time too ». Critique non signée pour le New York Times.

Pour le non signataire de cet article, si Mildred Pierce ne fonctionne pas c’est uniquement dû au fait qu’il est impossible qu’une femme ayant réussi en partant de rien se laisse aveuglément broyer par une jeune fille. L’histoire devient trop peu crédible. A cette occasion, Ann Blyth en prend son grade.

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4 réflexions sur « Mildred Pierce by No One »

  1. Un excellent roman de James Cain et un très beau film de Michael Curtiz. Je ne comprends pas ces réserves critiques.
    Bien des années plus tard, Todd Haynes l’adaptera à nouveau sous la forme d’une mini-série très réussie également.

  2. Je le possède mais ne l’ai pas encore vu. Par contre, oui le roman est excellent. je le possède dans une très belle édition américaine d’époque.

  3. Katy Hennessy from the group Classic Film Noir Theater : « Interesting. The character of Veda was always a little problematic for me though curiously, I can believe Mildred’s need to spoil her ».

  4. Frank Nims from the group CLASSIC FILM NOIR (1940 -1958) : « Just to let you know, it’s not that the reviewer is reluctant to give their name. Back then (at least), a writer had to put in a few years of writing uncredited stories before they (hopefully) moved up to getting a byline, which would mean more money and a chance to build a reputation. It seems like a reasonable review, by the way. Bosley Crowther wrote much worse stuff in some of his (signed) reviews in the TIMES ».

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