The Frida Cinema

Orange County's Year-Round Film Festival

Mommie Dearest

This Sunday, join us for our 5th Annual Mother’s Day screening of the Mother of All Bad Movies, Mommie Dearest — the 1981 camp classic that changed the way we look at wire hangers forever.

Mommie Dearest is based on the explosive autobiography of Christina Crawford, the adopted daughter of famed classic Hollywood actress, Joan Crawford.  Actresses Mara Hobel and Diana Scarwid play Christina, who chronicles her and her brother Christopher’s unstable life with their narcissistic mother, Joan (Faye Dunaway), and her manic and abusive behavior, fueled by both her ambition and her alcoholism.  Despite Joan publicly portraying their life as perfect, the living hell that was life at the Crawford home is given a somewhat unintentional campy frame by director Frank Perry, coupled with over-the-top melodramatic performances, and of course, more than a few memorable breakdowns – and classic lines – by Dunaway.

Despite being initially panned by critics and winning six Razzie awards (including Worst Picture and Worst Picture of the Decade), the legacy of cult classic phenomenon Mommie Dearest includes shattering Joan Crawford’s legacy as a Hollywood icon to one of pop culture’s most cold-hearted and abusive mothers, and damaging Oscar-winner Faye Dunaway’s otherwise stellar career.   

“This is lavish and pretty accurate as far as Hollywood lore is concerned, but Dunaway makes Norma Desmond look like Doris Day.” – Adrian Turner, Radio Times

“Right up there with Showgirls in the cinematic car wreck you can’t avert your eyes from.” – Jon Niccum, Lawrence Journal-World

“And so Mommie Dearest becomes a kind of homage to the monster herself—the emotions are so splendid, the scenes so dramatic, the experiences so incandescent.” – Peter Ackroyd, The Spectator