Mildred Pierce

Adaptations

1945

In 1945, the novel was made into a film starring Joan Crawford, Eve Arden, Ann Blyth, Jack Carson, Bruce Bennett, Zachary Scott, and Lee Patrick. The screenplay was adapted by Ranald MacDougall, William Faulkner, and Catherine Turney, and directed by Michael Curtiz.

The Motion Picture Production Code in use at the time specified that 11 subjects "shall not appear in pictures produced by the members of this Association" and listed 25 other subjects where "special care be exercised in the manner in which... [they] are treated." These provisions made it impossible to film a literal depiction of the events in the novel. The screenplay removes any depiction of a sexual relationship (which would have been both incest and infidelity) between Monty and his stepdaughter, Veda. Mildred neither discovers them in bed, nor injures Veda in any way.

These elements were replaced with a murder mystery told in flashbacks. In the movie, Veda becomes attracted to Monty and kills him when he does not return her affection. Mildred initially confesses to Monty's murder in order to shield Veda from prosecution but ultimately gives her over to the authorities.

Mildred Pierce was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (both Arden and Blyth), Best Screenplay and Best Black-and-white Cinematography (Ernest Haller). Crawford won the film's only Academy Award as Best Actress.

2011

Director Todd Haynes filmed a five-part miniseries with Kate Winslet as Mildred, Guy Pearce as Monty Beragon, and Evan Rachel Wood as Veda in Spring 2010 (with Morgan Turner in the role as the young Veda). Haynes wrote the script with Jon Raymond, and also served as an executive producer with Pamela Koffler, John Wells, Ilene S. Landress and Christine Vachon, along with HBO in association with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

The miniseries aired on HBO, starting on March 27, 2011, and ending with a two-part finale on April 10, 2011. It differs from the movie version, staying more faithful to the book's original story. In fact, it is an almost word-for-word dramatization of the novel, including nearly every scene and using Cain's original dialogue. Features period music performed by Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks Orchestra.


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