Often a finicky reader like myself will coordinate novel reading with leisurely travel It is the exquisite pairing of books at beaches, at hotel balconies, at restaurants that forever, at least in my own experience, binds the two together in a truly surreal Dadaistic effort that s worthwhile For instance, I remember fondly reading Catcher in the Rye at a desolate Mexican beach, The Tesseract on my way to Mazatlan, The Exorcist, Sphere The Beach all making themselves unforgettable with the incessant pounding of waves Recently, reading The Godfather in Vegas made me feel invigorated pairing this with nickel slots proved to be lucky I won like 16 bucks And Where d You Go, Bernadette actually inspired me to put on sunglasses to hide rare and unwelcome tears while strutting down the Strip But the most ironic and utterly correct pairing thus far has been my recent trip to Knott s at California and its neighboring chicken only one of a kind diner Close to Anaheim, well, Glendale, to be exact, that s where the fictional Mrs Pierce lived, decades ago She begins her entrepreneurial adventure selling pies, and then progresses to chicken only restaurants Did I mention that this occurs in the years following the Great Depression Her struggle is incredible it is her adulation for her diva daughter oh, those divas they will undo art as much as they contribute to it that leads to her downfall Yes, it is impossible to stop during a Jim M Cain This heroine is so strong, so very likable that the reader immediately sides with her, with a natural string of dilemmas that are tossed her way I cannot wait to read other classics by this author, including Double Indemnity The Postman Always Rings Twice My boyfriend insists that this could be a perfect example to examine during a Feminism in the 20th Century class I could not agreeplace this on a college syllabus I d include this book in the genre I like to call, Middle Class White Women Have A Really Bad Time Other works in this genre include, A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams and The Awakening by Kate Chopin I seem to really enjoy this genre for some reason I came to Mildred Pierce for two reasons, one the Joan Crawford film and two look that s my name Overall I did enjoy this book You actually care about the characters, especially Mildred, which I find quite rare The relationship between her and Veda is a legendary in the book as it is on film I d definitely recommend this for fans of the film and for new readers of the story It s a hard boiled classic. My introduction to the fiction of James M Cain is Mildred Pierce and against expectations of reading another hard boiled tale of two bit losers and deadly dames on the make from the author of Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice, I was knocked out by how plot resistant and psychologically compelling this novel is Published in 1941, the degree which I connected to the title character and her circumstances were a surprise and I m reluctant to discuss the story for danger of spoiling its allure I recommend everyone skip my hooptedoodle and read this novel.In Glendale, California, a suburb of Los Angeles that in the spring of 1931 is considered provincial by those with money or power, Herbert Bert Pierce finishes pruning the trees and mowing the lawn of his Spanish bungalow His wife Mildred is busy designing one of the pies she sells to make ends meet, with her real estate investor husband of Pierce Homes gutted and left jobless by the stock market crash in the autumn of 1929 Telling his wife that he s going for a walk, Bert is notified by Mildred that if he s going to see Maggie Biederhof again, he needn t bother coming back Making sure that their daughters Veda and Moire Ray aren t home, Bert packs a suitcase and leaves his wife.Mildred levels with her eleven year old Veda, musically gifted but full of airs and ashamed of her mother s low social status, and the seven year old Ray Mildred confides to her neighbor Mrs Gessler and initially, subsists on the illusion that her pie orders will pay the utility bills and put food on the table But when business stalls, suddenly single Mildred agrees to a date with Wally Burgan, a business associate of her husband s who works for the receivers appointed to take over Pierce Homes Managing to stay friends after their fling, Mildred faces the reality of a mortgage payment coming due and meets with an employment agent named Miss Turner who reads Mildred the riot act Miss Turner pulled out a lot of drawers, set them in a row on her desk They were filled with cards of different colors Looking intently at Mildred, she said I told you you re not qualified O.K., you can take a look here and see what I mean These three drawers are employers, people that call me when they want somebody And they call me, too They call me because I m on the level with them and save them the trouble of talking to nitwits like you You see those pink ones That means No Jews See the blues No Gentiles not many of them, but a few That s got nothing to do with you, but it gives you an idea People are sold over this desk just like cattle in the Chicago yards, and for exactly the same reason they ve got the points the buyer wants All right, now take a look at something that does concern you See those greens That means No Married Women Why, may I ask Because right in the middle of rush hour you wonderful little homemakers have a habit of getting a call that Willie s got the croup, and out you run, and maybe you come back next day, and maybe you come back next week Somebody has to look after Willie These people, these employers on the greens, they re not much interested in Willie And another habit you wonderful homemakers have got is running up a lot of bills you thought friend husband would pay, and then when he wouldn t you had to get a job And then the first paycheck you draw, there s eighteen attachments on it and life s too short Do you call that fair I call them green I go by the cards I don t owe a cent Not one Mildred thought guiltily of the interest that would be due July 1, and Miss Turner, seeing the flicker in her eye, said I thought soNow take a look at these other drawers They re all applicants These are stenographers a dime a dozen, but at least they can do somethingThese are qualified secretaries a dime a dozen too, but they rate a different file These are stenographers with scientific experience, nurses, laboratory assistants, chemists all able to take charge of a clinic, or run an office for three or four doctors, or do hospital work Why would I recommend you ahead of any of them Some of those girls are Ph.D s and Sc.D s from U.C.L.A and other places Here s a whole file of stenographers that are expert bookkeepers Any one of them could take charge of all the office work for a small firm, and still have time for a little sleeping Here are sales people, men and women, every one of them with an A 1 reference they can really move goods They re all laid off, there s no goods moving, but I don t see how I could put you ahead of them And here s the preferred list Look at it, a whole drawerful, men and women, every one of them a real executive, or auditor, or manager of some business, and when I recommend one, I know somebody is getting something for his money They re all home, sitting by their phones, hoping I ll call I won t call I ve got nothing to tell them What I m trying to get through your head is You haven t got a chance Those people, it hurts me, it makes me lie awake nights, that I ve got nothing for them They deserve something, and there s not a thing I can do But there s not a chance I d slip you ahead of any one of them You re not qualified There s not a thing on earth you can do, and I hate people that can t do anything How do I qualify Mildred s lips were fluttering again, the way they had in Miss Boole s office Miss Turner looked quickly away, then said Can I make a suggestion Mildred s tenacity and luck crossing paths with women sympathetic to her plight snare her a job interview for a housekeeper in Beverly Convinced that Veda would disown her if she accepted such a socially inferior position, Mildred turns the job down Stopping at a restaurant in Hollywood, she witnesses two waitresses fired With nothing left to lose, she asks the head waitress Ida for the job Earning twenty five cents an hour plus tips, Mildred is handed an apron and given a crash course in serving tables Unable to carrythan two plates at a time, her job is spared by the cook, who recognizes that Mildred knows how to prepare food.In addition to easing her financial woes, Mildred quickly becomes the best waitress in the restaurant Noting how bad the pies she s forced to serve are, she gains the confidence of Ida, who s locked in a battle with the owner Mr Chris over the pie situation When Ida discovers how masterful Mildred s pies are, she conspires to get Mildred the contract at thirty five cents a pie Mildred uses the income to hire a housekeeper Though Veda discovers that her mother has taken lowly work as a waitress, Mildred no longer regards her employer as a dead end and through observation, begins to learn how to run a successful restaurant.In an effort to retain the respect of her daughter, Mildred announces her intention to open her own restaurant, a chicken and waffles place Wally Burgan offers Mildred a model home for the price of four thousand dollars that the receivers are taking a loss on that he feels would be perfect He advises Mildred that she ll need Bert to agree to a divorce before she goes into business and employing stillpolitical finesse, Mildred gets Bert to agree to this, accepting his gift of the house so her ex husband can feel he s providing for his children Drawing on her skills with food, hospitality and people, Mildred Pierce seems to be on her way to becoming someone Veda is proud of It was a hot morning in October, her last at the restaurant The previous two weeks had been a mad scramble in which it had seemed she would never find time for all she had to do There had been visits to Los Angeles Street, to order the equipment her precious credit entitled her to calls on restaurant proprietors, to get her pie orders to the point where they would really help on expenses endless scurrying to the model home, where painters were transforming it hard, secret figuring about money work and worry that sent her to bed at night almost too exhausted to sleep But now that was over The equipment was in, particularly a gigantic range that made her heart thump when she looked at it the painters were done, almost three new pie contracts were safely past the sample stage The load of debt she would have to carry, the interest, taxes, and installments involved, frightened her, and at the same time excited her If she could ever struggle through the first year or two, she told herself, then she would have something As much as I enjoy hard boiled noir with its murder plots and double crosses, Mildred Pierce resists every opportunity to be pigeonholed into that genre As a vibrant and searing story of the Great Depression and the prewar years in Los Angeles, the novel would be great simply for the world it opens its readers to, a world of economic collapse and women surviving without the social safety nets, legal protections or technology I m using to write this review The reason this is one of my favorite novels ever is James M Cain s savvy when it comes to politics, the mechanisms that people use to exert their will and get what they want, maneuvers which often remain covert So far as Monty was concerned, Mildred knew this was the end, but she didn t do anything about it at once She received him as usual when he dropped in at the restaurant that night, and the next two or three nights She even submitted to his embraces, deriving a curious satisfaction from the knowledge that his access to the very best legs was rapidly drawing to a close Stoppage of the spending money brought Veda to her milk, as no beating had ever done, and when it did, Mildred forgave her quite honestly, in a teary little scene two or three days after Christmas It was almost automatic with her by now to acquit Veda of wrongdoing, no matter how flagrant the offense In her mind, the blame was all Monty s, and presently she knew exactly how she would deal with him, and when.Like Mildred Pierce, I live on the outskirts of Los Angeles and am currently looking for a job, hoping to start my own business but have no spouse or family who can even offer a strong drink to help me along I identified with this character, who has integrity, creativity, strength and one immeasurable weakness that threatens to destroy everything she s built The psychological warfare in Cain s novel is farthrilling that if guns or knives were involved and kept me invested throughout, with prose and dialogue that are jeweled Filmmakers may have agreed, with two film adaptations, one in 1945 for Warner Bros starring Joan Crawford and one in 2011 for HBO starring Kate Winslet.Length 89,164 words Mildred Pierce divorces her out of work, philandering husband and struggles to find a way to support herself and her two daughters Too bad she attracts lazy scoundrels like a magnet and one of her daughters is a hellionMildred Pierce is the tale of the titular character s obsessive devotion to her wicked nigh sociopathic daughter and her wrong choices in men Cain guides Mildred and her fabulous gams from one setback to the next, either from Veda or one of her douchebag suitors.The writing is good though I didn t think it was as powerful as that of Double Indemnity or Postman Still, it had its moments My favorite quote was The hand that holds the money cracks the whip It wasn t the easiest book to read, however I couldn t get behind any of the characters and I really wanted someone to start plotting to bump someone off Mildred pretty much deserved all the crap that came her way, especially since she was glad Veda wasn t the child of hers that died A lot of double crosses would have been great, view spoiler especially with Veda and Monty engaging in adult situations and strong sexual content unbeknownst to Mildred hide spoiler The hand that holds the money cracks the whip Mildred PierceImagine my disappointment in reading page after page of this novel, written by the author of such salacious noir thrillers as The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity, and discovering no murders have been committed Not a drop of blood And Cain has a reputation for writing about women that some see as disrespectful or even misogynous Babes, floozies, tramps, prostitutes, con artists In this novel, that might be described as literary fiction, it s almost as if he wanted to prove to the world that he could create a sympathetic portrait of a woman If you have to do it, you can do it And he does, and she does, though Mildred also makes bad decisions with respect to her choices in men, and her support for her daughter.Mildred Pierce the novel is set in the forties, so it s kind of a portrait of working class women that for a good portion of the book reminds me of Rosie the Riveter Mildred divorces her philandering, unemployed husband and has to figure out how to raise her two girls alone And she does She becomes a waitress, uses this experience to develop her own restaurant, and so on She s hardboiled, tough, like a lot of noir women, but she s also a good though too indulgent mother She is flawed, though, in that she falls for bad men, and she can t control her very wild, spoiled, arrogant daughter, Veda I had an idea for awhile that there might be a murder of this girl, and I find at a glance at Goodreads reviews that many are disappointed she isn t murdered, they hate her so much Veda at an early age is beautiful, a talented singer, and her mother spoils her, buys her everything, and Ida is consistently ungrateful and manipulative This is an inversion of the Mommie Dearest story of the hateful mother Ida is the daughter we love to hate But it s complicated, too There was something unnatural, a little unhealthy, about the way she inhaled Veda s smell as she dedicated the rest of her life to this child who had been spared There s also love triangle in this story involving Veda and Mildred, which calls attention to the mid twentieth century noir fascination with deviant psychology Mildred is unreasonably supportive of Veda, but she is also seethingly jealous of her, and a little obsessed with her And in a few moments, Oedipally Mildred tiptoed into the room she had hoped Veda would occupy, knelt beside the bed as she had knelt so many times in Glendale, took the lovely creature in her arms and kissed her, hard, on the mouth O kay there are a couple moments like this in the book It s a complicated mother daughter book.But this book is also from its most basic perspective about women and money, in a time in which women are largely disrespected by men Is it still happening, the world over Of course Equal pay The glass ceiling Point made But in this good and entertaining and a little melodramatic novel, Mildred s a survivor, we laregely admire her for her strengths, and sympathize with her for her faults, which emerge from love She generally figures out how to manage the system Now to re see the film version with Joan Crawford And maybe the Kate Winslet mini series. Even if I hadn t read any James M Cain before, I had expected a particular kind of story murder, dangerous men, evendangerous women, dark seductions that led to terrible things And what I got with Mildred Pierce was actually a very literate and sophisticated story about an unhealthy mother daughter relationship Like any good noir novel, it builds a thick and paranoid atmosphere, there s a lot of greed and backstabbing, as well as plenty of sex though given the time it was written at, it s hinted at,than anything else , and while there is undoubtedly a female character made of pure evil, no blood is spilled This book isabout broken illusions, the price of what one perceives as success.For those, who, like me, had been oblivious about this book, it s the story of a beautiful young woman named Mildred, with a very strong character and a gift for cooking, but truly awful taste in men and inexplicable love for her horrid daughter The story opens on Mildred kicking out her unemployed, cheating husband Bert, and finding herself in a precarious position single mother looking to keep a roof over her head in the middle of Depression era California Through strong will and resourcefulness, she manages to get a waitress job, which eventually leads her to owning her very own restaurant and soon booming dining business But none of that is good enough for her haughty, insufferably snob daughter Veda, who despite her middle class upbringing, seems to think she ought to have all the privileges and perks of royalty And Mildred will go to great lengths to satisfy Veda s expectations.While I couldn t understand Mildred s attachment to that devil spawn of hers, I otherwise admired her a lot as a character no nonsense, proud, independent spirit, hard working, clever and determined, she pulls off what few women manage to do today claw their way out of a truly bad situation and live life on their own terms Cain certainly surprised me with this proto feminist story I also liked how he captured that middle class yearning for what is often perceived as the easy life of the rich and famous Veda is obsessed with it, sure, but Mildred is also attracted to the grand houses, fancy clothes, cars with drivers and opera seats Of course, the difference between her and the entitled and boorish Monty is that she worked as hard as one could to earn access to such things, as where he squandered his privilege until he had to scheme to get it back.Now everyone loves to hate Veda, and trust me, I did too In fact, I was surprised she didn t end up dead she is so manipulative, cruel and almost psychopathic that pretty much every other character in the book had a good reason to off her But noneso than Mildred, whom she seems determined to hurt at every turn She belittles her hard work and station while profiting from every advantage it offers her, she lies, she schemes and yet Mildred still passionately loves that monstrous child The strange power that terrible girl yields is, to me, the true mystery of Mildred Pierce I would have kicked her to the curb a lot sooner than her mother does As for Monty, I hated him almostthan Veda, because while he is an absolute weasel, he doesn t have the brains to realize he s being used just as much as anybody else Dumbass.Cain s prose was exactly what I expected though simple, clean, direct Not a word is wasted and not a superfluous adjective is added It works well for the genre and the story, but he was no prose stylist While I found the pacing a bit too rushed in the second half especially the ending, which while perfect, could have been fleshed out a bit, I still really enjoyed Mildred Pierce it s a pretty fucked up story, but the characters are unforgettable, and if you like dark and dramatic, you will definitely enjoy this book. Wow, freaking wow I had no idea I would be sucked into this novel the way I was I couldn t put it down I know that phrase is overused, but seriously, I couldn t put it downAnd when I did have to abandon it for life and work, I couldn t wait to get back to it This is so different than Cain s other noir novels where sex and violence, scheming, backstabbing and a dead body feature so prominently Unlike Double Indemnity or The Postman Always Rings Twice, Mildred Pierce is a full length novel that takes its time delving deep into character and focusing on the minutiae of one woman s epic financial rise during the Great Depression and her extremely damaging and twisted relationship with her eldest daughter Veda Veda what a vile and loathsome and brilliant literary creation Don t get me wrong I had my problems with Mildred too, but Veda just takes the cake I ve never wanted to scream and slap someone across the face so badly as I wanted to with her view spoiler When Mildred FINALLY loses her cool and starts to choke her, I m actually cheering her on Yes Choke on that, you witch hide spoiler Well done story that paints a realistic portrayal of a woman s struggle for success during the depression era.This story gives me thoughts of a previous read novel Revolutionary Road by Yates which also was adapted into big screen well They really are both of similar tones A decline of the family structure, loss of possessions dear to them in this world, a really heart warming and life learning story Is therelight at the end of the tunnel for the main protagonist Mildred You are taken through the to s and fro s of a mother daughter relationship Can Mildred give her kids the right upbringing financially and emotionally She certainly has a lot of determination and love but it s not a one sided coin there s the negative forces around this enduring woman.I have seen the movie a while back but really can t recollect much of it, I will be watching the tv adaption soon There s quite a few remakes and adaptations to watch soon and out already The Great Gatsby, Jane Eyre, Brighton rock and A Game of Thrones I am eagerly waiting on The Talisman By Straub and King and The The Dark Tower series by Stephen King to arrive to screen.Movie and Book update June 6 2011 Still yet to finish the new mini series and i want to watch the original but i found a good review by The man himself Stephen King will post it below under spoilers and some images until i get round watching it This is what Stephen King said about the remake There s terrific acting in Todd Haynes s chilly remake Melissa Leo gives a tough as nails performance as Mildred s one friend, Br an F O Byrne is perfect as Mildred s clueless but basically good hearted first husband, and as for Winslet and Pearce holy crow The rest of his thoughts in the spoilerhttp 2read.com review mildred pierce by james m cain view spoiler Kate Winslet Is Mommie Dearest in Mildred Pierceby Stephen KingMarch 20, 2011 10 54pmWinslet and Evan Rachel Wood burn up the screen in the spectacular HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce In this week s Newsweek, Stephen King reviews the chilly Todd Haynes remake.As the 1946 Academy Awards approached, there wasn t a lot of suspense about where the best actor and best picture trophies would wind up Ray Milland and The Lost Weekend looked like shoo ins The best actress competition, however, was a horse race The general consensus was that Joan Crawford probably deserved the Oscar for her portrayal of Mildred Pierce in the film of the same name, but three of the other nominated actresses Ingrid Bergman, Jennifer Jones, and Gene Tierney seemedlikely to win The films those three women starred in were sunnier particularly Bergman s The Bells of St Mary s , and the actresses themselves were better liked Crawford was arrogant, overmannered, and difficult to work with I wouldn t sit on her toilet, Bette Davis once famously said.Arrogant she may have been stupid she was not Terrified of losing, she pretended to be sick on the big night The film s director, Michael Curtiz originally dismayed to be saddled with such a difficult leading lady accepted on her behalf Crawford welcomed reporters into her bedroom only after her win was safely in the bag.There ll be no such difficulties at this year s Emmy Awards, when Kate Winslet will very likely accept her own award She isn t disliked in the Hollywood community, has no diva reputation at least that I ve been able to discover , she got to work from a script that closely follows James M Cain s high voltage story the 1945 version veers wildly from the book, adding a ridiculous murder plot , and she acts rings around Crawford.Does this make HBO s five part miniseries directed by Todd Haynes and gorgeously photographed by previous Haynes collaborator Edward Lachman the television event of the spring Um well that sort of depends on your sensibilities, Constant Viewer If you re into Bright Sunny, I suggest five evenings of Frasier reruns Or you could put The Bells of St Mary s in your Netflix queue If, however, darkly compelling drama about people who aren t particularly likable plus one nasty little girl who grows into a truly monstrous young woman is your cup of bitter tea, you won t want to miss it.Mildred Pierce opens in Glendale, Calif., in 1931, and closes there about 10 years later During the years between, Mildred trudges with grim and not particularly admirable fortitude from one disaster to the next, dragging Veda, her harpy of a daughter, behind her like an anchor Mildred survives somehow but the viewer is left with the sense that none of her victories mean much, and is apt to greet the credit roll at the end of part five with a sigh of relief Don t get me wrong this is compelling viewing, but when Mildred s tale finally wound up, I felt a little as I did when, as a child, I finally figured out how to get a Chinese finger puller off my thumbs.When we meet Mildred, she s putting the finishing touches on one of the cakes she sells and simultaneously tossing her cheating husband out on his ear She accomplishes both tasks with aplomb, going after poor, bewildered Bert Pierce with the rat a tat delivery of a gangster s moll in a Cagney picture What do you do with her Play rummy with her a while, then unbutton that red dress she s always wearing without any brassiere under it, and flop her on the bed And then have yourself a nice sleep, and then get up and see if there s some cold chicken in the icebox, and then play rummy some , and then flop her on the bed again Gee, that must be swell Meanwhile, there s the awful Veda to consider She s a monster, but not one like Rhoda Penmark in The Bad Seed who comes out of nowhere she is her own mother with all the grace notes removed Mildred, at least, is capable of love In Veda, love has been annealed to a hard diamond of ambition Worse, Mildred becomes her willfully blind enabler I don t want her to just have bread, Mildred tells her friend, Lucy I want her to have cake Mildred is finally forced to take work as a waitress, although she refuses to breathe a word about it to her children Ray, the cheerful younger daughter, probably wouldn t care one way or another, but Veda would be horrified and scornful Mildred herself is horrified, and that is one of the things that makes her so hard to like The other is her grim refusal, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, to see that she is nursing a viper in her bosom And when Ray dies of a fever, the rattlesnake is the only one left in the nest.Although the mini s chief selling point with HBO audiences may be Mildred s soapy, steamy romance with wastrel playboy Monty Beragon beautifully played by Guy Pearce , the most vital sequences have to do with Mildred s rise to success in a man s world, first selling her pies and pastries to the hash house where she works, then opening her own restaurant As distasteful as she finds her waitressing job, Mildred is a careful, almost predatory observer, and working in a come n get it caf teaches her all the pitfalls of food service Chief among them are excess waste and too many choices When she opens Mildred s, there are two basic items on the menu chicken and waffles She becomes, in a sense, Colonel Sanders in a woman s body and quite the splendid body it is Cain s novel describes a lady of voluptuous charms Joan Crawford was not that woman Kate Winslet is.Mildred expands to three restaurants, experiences giddy success, and then loses everything hence, back to Glendale She blames the men who gave her too much credit and too much bad advice, but the real culprit is Veda, who hangs on her like a leech, bleeding Mildred dry until she blossoms as a coloratura soprano something that happens late, with no foreshadowing, and in spite of her nonstop cigarette consumption Veda leaves for New York, but not before committing one final act far too shocking for the 1945 version of Mildred Pierce to even contemplate hence the trumpery murder plot I think Veda s last betrayal will jolt even modern viewers, and Evan Rachel Wood is amazing in her penultimate scene Nudity has rarely looked so evil Or so enticing.There s terrific acting in Todd Haynes s chilly remake Melissa Leo gives a tough as nails performance as Mildred s one friend, Br an F O Byrne is perfect as Mildred s clueless but basically good hearted first husband, and as for Winslet and Pearce holy crow I detest the term chemistry to describe actors playing people who are sexually attracted to each other, so let s just say these two are in perfect, ferocious sync Imagine Bogie and Bacall in hell and you ll get the idea Winslet and Pearce don t just heat up Mildred Pierce they damn near burn it down If for no other reason, you may want to tune in to see two actors at the height of their creative powers and physical beauty.All the same, there are problems here Haynes has shown his love for the Hollywood version of America s past before, most notably in the remarkable but equally hard to like Far From Heaven 2002 , and here it has gotten out of control In words of one syllable It s too damn long I suppose that sounds impudent, coming from a guy who s written several doorstop size novels, but I stand by it When Emperor Joseph II purportedly told Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart that his new opera had too many notes, Mozart supposedly replied, Only as many as necessary, Your Highness Using that metaphor, the Haynes version of Mildred Pierce has way too much sheet music.In his memorable introduction to three of James M Cain s early novels, Tom Wolfe wrote Picking up a Cain novel is like climbing into a car with one of those Superstockers who is up to forty by the time your right leg is in the door In this version of Mildred Pierce, you are not only in the door by the time the story gets up to cruising speed you have had time to buckle your seat belt, turn on the radio, leaf through the latest issue of Photoplay, and eat a Butterfinger.The Depression era set decoration is perfect, and you get to appreciate all of it because Haynes lingers on each stucco bungalow, each deserted seaside road, each overdecorated Beverly Hills manse There are soporific panning shots and at least one dolly track sequence that seems well nigh endless Mildred and her friend, Lucy, are at the seashore, and I began to think they were going to walk all the way to San Diego Perhaps even Mexico City There are enough shots of a pensive Winslet seen through rain beaded windshields to make you feel like screaming Yes, she s beautiful, I kept thinking, so why the hell isn t the director getting her to do somethinginteresting than staring at the windshield wiper Cain s novels are quick, hard stabs to the heart His most famous book, The Postman Always Rings Twice, is just 128 pages long The original paperback version of Mildred Pierce was only 250 pages You could read the whole thing aloud before the miniseries finishes I think Cain would marvel at the acting and production values, but roll his eyes at the plodding pace Probably El Leonard, whose famous recipe for good entertainment is leave out the boring parts, would do the same.And yet Mildred Pierce has a visceral, snake farm fascination Any mother who s ever had daughter troubles I d guess that would be most who have daughters will be immediately engaged And whatever other problems the mini may have, Haynes clearly conveys Cain s basic message when you allow a kid to grow up unfettered by conscience or scruples, the result is apt to be unpleasant In his introduction, Tom Wolfe calls Veda a little bitch Yet we finish able to offer Mildred at least conditional forgiveness Veda is, after all, what she has, and Mildred fights for it, tooth and nail And there s this bonus Haynes has given us Cain s original shocker of a climax unvarnished and in lurid close up.In the end, though, Winslet carries this show on her sturdy shoulders, and when someone hands her the golden winged lady next year, I ll be the first to applaud Did I hear someone out there say, You re jinxing her Nonsense Winslet s Mildred is a genuine star turn How Joan Crawford would have loathed her hide spoiler Mildred Pierce Had Gorgeous Legs, A Way With A Skillet, And A Bone Deep Core Of Toughness And Determination She Used Those Attributes To Survive A Divorce In S America With Two Children And To Claw Her Way Out Of Poverty, Becoming A Successful Businesswoman But Mildred Also Had Two Weaknesses A Yen For Shiftless Men And An Unreasoning Devotion To Her Monstrous DaughterOut Of These Elements, Cain Created A Novel Later Made Into A Film Noir Classic Of Acute Social Observation And Devastating Emotional Violence And A Heroine Whose Ambitions And Sufferings Are Never Less Than RecognizableNarrated By Christine Williams James M Cain s Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice have always been two of my favorite crime novels While Mildred Pierce was turned into something of a crime story in the movie starring Joan Crawford, the book is the fairly straight forward story of a California woman who struggles to make a life for herself and her daughter, Veda, during the years of the Great Depression.As the book opens, Mildred throws her lazy, unfaithful husband out on his ear and become the single mother of two young daughters Forced to fend for herself, she becomes a pie maker She later takes a job as a waitress and through hard work and grim determination parlays the skills she learns on the job into owning her own restaurant However, Veda, Mildred s elder daughter, has nothing but contempt for her mother s efforts and is embarrassed that her mother is so declasse.Veda, who is most certainly the daughter from Hell, aspires to higher things and never stops to appreciate the sacrifices that her mother makes on her behalf Nor does she apparently ever stop to wonder how she, her sister and their mother would survive save for Mildred s efforts that Veda so casually mocks The amazing thing is that Mildred is totally enchanted by this ungrateful urchin and bends over backwards to please her Mildred constantly ignores and forgives the hateful things that Veda says and sacrifices her entire life to pleasing the little snot until, in the end, a serious crisis results.Cain has created here two of the most memorable characters in American fiction and has woven around them a gritty story of Mildred s struggle to survive and succeed, both in business and in her plaintive attempt to win her daughter s favor I admire what he has done, but I can t say that I really enjoyed this book all that much I simply could not identify or empathize with any of the characters, and my patience with Mildred Pierce ran out very early on As terrible a thing as it is to say, were I Mildred Pierce, by the third or fourth chapter of this book, her darling Veda would have been in traction and I would have been in jail But that, of course, would have made for a much shorter novel.
James Mallahan Cain was an American journalist and novelist Although Cain himself vehemently opposed labelling, he is usually associated with the hardboiled school of American crime fiction and seen as one of the creators of the roman noir.He was born into an Irish Catholic family in Annapolis, Maryland, the son of a prominent educator and an opera singer He inherited his love for music from h
- 288 pages
- Mildred Pierce
- James M. Cain
- 10 June 2019 James M. Cain