Mildred Pierce (Curtiz, 1945)

A great example of the prototypical Noir, Mildred Pierce has it all; flashbacks aided by voice-over, morally ambiguous characters, and shadowy mise-en-scene stuffed with constricting iconography. While sometimes drawn out and overly talky, the film succeeds most when Joan Crawford and Ann Blyth share the screen, producing a mother/daughter face-off full of ugly jabs and dirty counterattacks. Curtiz builds this fateful relationship with objects of pleasure and glances of worry, crashing building blocks of a family destined to fall apart.

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