Mildred Pierce Essay

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Mildred Pierce Amy McKenzie

“Mildred Pierce”, originally a book written by James M. Cain, is based upon a strong, ambitious woman’s downfall, all from utter devotion to a money-hungry, monstrous daughter. It was then adapted into a film in 1945, directed by Michael Curtiz. He was responsible for many cinematic classics, such as The Adventures of Robin Hood and Casablanca. He thrived in the heyday of the Warner Bros. studios in the 1930’s and 40’s. His specific style helped emphasise the Film Noir genre within the film, which was extremely popular during it’s time of release.

Film Noir is a cinematic term which was exceptionally popular in the 1940-50’s. It was primarily used to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, which usually included dark, secretive characters and provocative females. With roots to German Expressionism, the key elements most commonly used are high contrast lighting and obvious shadows to create a gloomy atmosphere, a vice often used in Film Noir. In Mildred Pierce, the main basis of the storyline is murder, a theme commonly used within film noir, but the story is mixed with typical soap-opera elements also.

For Mildred Pierce, the target audience would have been a more adult audience, possibly seeking entertainment during the near end of the war. This audience would be predominantly female. This is because of it's "chick-flick" nature, which added more appeal for women, because of the femme fatale, Mildred. It has an underlying message that women can come from being defenseless housewives to making a living for themselves, supporting their own families, without a man around. For the majority of the film, Mildred was not married, and these were in fact the less complicated times.

Mildred Pierce is linked with the Hollywood Star System, as well as being linked to Classical Hollywood. The film is considered to be the "star vehicle" for actress Joan Crawford; meaning that an audience would go to see the...
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