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Mildred Pierce

Definitely not the best Michael Curtiz movie, but potentially one of the best Joan Crawford vehicles, Mildred Pierce (1945) skirts the line between soap-opera melodrama and hard-boiled film noir without coming down definitively on either side. Its plot, based on a James M. Cain novel of the same name, often strains credulity even as it takes pains to capture the cynicism of its source material, and Curtiz’s staging seems uncharacteristically clunky. Still, it’s a suitably twisty film, and Crawford’s performance in the titular role more than warrants a watch (even if Ann Blyth’s turn does not). Most noir completists know the score on this one, and those who haven’t seen it won’t regret the effort.

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