Mildred Pierce Gets Criterion 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce. Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Michael Curtiz’s Oscar-winning Mildred Pierce is now available for audiences to bring home on 4K Ultra HD with many bonus features.

The film came to the screen a few years after James Cain’s novel was published. It doesn’t follow the novel as faithfully as the miniseries. After a divorce during the Depression, Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford) is now the successful owner of a restaurant chain. But all is not well at home as we eventually see in her relationship with daughter Veda (Ann Blyth). If Mildred had her way, she would be able to control everyone but she just doesn’t get that when it comes to Veda. Veda herself is also a pretty manipulative person and it turns out to be Mildred’s downfall late in the film.

For an all-too-brief moment, George Cukor was considered to direct the film. The job went to Michael Curtiz and even at that, he wasn’t entirely on board with Crawford’s casting. Go figure. On the screenwriting side, it also took some time before getting the greenlight from the Production Code Administration. Morals were a big deal in the 1940s and you can’t have people getting away scot-free! Anyway, it took a few writers to adapt the story that producer Jerry Wald was looking for. With Curtiz on board with Wald’s vision, things could progress further. Progressing forward would also mean including a murder and writing Veda over-the-top. This was the only way to make a film and satisfy Joseph Breen and the PCA.

Let’s talk about Michael Curtiz. He was not the easiest director to work with even though he was THE GUY on the Warner Bros. lot. Curtiz got into it with Crawford because the filmmaker didn’t like her appearance on set. He wasn’t on board with her casting until after watching screen tests. Prior to this, Curtiz put his efforts in casting Barbara Stanwyck to no avail. Both Joan Fontaine and Olivia De Havilland were too young so the sisters were also not an option. Thankfully, both Curtiz and Crawford eventually came to a professional understanding. While the film would earn many Oscar nominations, Curtiz did not get one for Best Director. Did the Academy think the film directed itself?

The timing for this film couldn’t be more perfect. No longer under contract to MGM, Crawford found her way to Warner Bros. at a bargain price. If not for Jerry Wald, who knows what could have happened. In any event, the film would become a box office hit on top of earning Crawford an Oscar.

Mildred Pierce features a dynamite performance from Joan Crawford but the story itself could use some improvements.

Bonus Features

  • 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • One 4K UHD disc of the film presented in HDR and one Blu-ray with the film and special features
  • Conversation with critics Molly Haskell and Robert Polito
  • Excerpt from a 1970 episode of The David Frost Show featuring actor Joan Crawford
  • Joan Craw­ford: The Ultimate Movie Star, a 2002 feature-length documentary
  • Q&A with actor Ann Blyth from 2006, presented by filmmaker Marc Huestis and conducted by film historian Eddie Muller
  • Segment from a 1969 episode of the Today show featuring Mildred Pierce novelist James M. Cain
  • Trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Imogen Sara Smith

DIRECTOR: Michael Curtiz
SCREENWRITER: Ranald MacDougall
CAST: Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, with Eve Arden, Ann Blyth, Bruce Bennett

Warner Bros. released Mildred Pierce in theaters on October 20, 1945. Grade: 4/5

Please subscribe to Solzy at the Movies on Substack.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.