Silhouettes and Shadows in Mildred Pierce (1945)




















Directed by Michael Curtiz
Cinematograpy by Ernest Haller

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11 Responses to Silhouettes and Shadows in Mildred Pierce (1945)

  1. Helena says:

    These are amazing! Thanks for the beauty, Sheila!

    • sheila says:

      Aren’t they so beautiful?

      The early section of the film is so light and bright and domestic – and then, boy, it goes dark. The shadows have a life of their own.

      • Helena says:

        I really must rematch this – I haven’t seen this film since I was a kid. It would probably have been on a Sunday afternoon – that was the time for sword and sandals films, WW2 films, and Joan Crawford movies – all on a black and white set. You never forget a Joan Crawford movie, though, not really – how can you forget that face? Not like the face of any human being I have ever seen.

        • sheila says:

          // that was the time for sword and sandals films, WW2 films, and Joan Crawford movies //

          Yes! I have the same memories of first encountering her. I mean, her silhouette is so iconic – and yet she’s also absolutely different in every film. I watched “Humoresque” last night (I’m on a Crawford binge – had to put her in the SPN re-cap because of it!!) – and she has the same wide shoulders, and same lighting scheme on her face, and practically the same hairdo – but the character is TOTALLY different from Mildred.

          I don’t think she gets enough credit for range. She played everything!

          My favorite bit in Mildred Pierce lasts about 10 seconds: it shows her on her first shift as a waitress, overwhelmed, and shy, jostling up to the short-order cook – and then – a few weeks later, to her OWNING the dining room, swooping in and out of the kitchen holding trays, totally competent.

          I could watch a 25-minute montage of Joan Crawford and Eve Arden waitressing together. :)

  2. Maureen says:

    One of my favorite movies! I loved this, Sheila, thanks for putting it together.

  3. Maureen says:

    Wow, went a bit crazy on the commas there :)

    • sheila says:

      Maureen – You’re welcome – it was fun to find all these images. We were talking on FB about all of the other “motifs” – like polka dots, and also the slant of light that crosses Crawford’s face in all the closeups. So gorgeous.

      But I just love those deep floating independent shadows so much – and how people (like the policeman in that first shot on the pier) turn totally black, so you can’t see a thing.

      It’s such a genius look.

      Such a great movie.

  4. sheila says:

    I’m also currently reading James Cain’s novel – which I had never read before. I have read Double Indemnity and Postman, but not Mildred – it’s much longer than the other two. It’s FASCINATING. I can even picture Crawford herself reading the book and knowing in her DNA that that role was HERS.

  5. bugsy_pal says:

    Thanks for this piece – the photos say it all. I first saw this many years ago in a heightened state of consciousness, and I was just blown away by the images in this film – I think ‘chiaroscuro’ is the right word to describe it, and this film is dripping with it. And on top of that, it’s just a great story with great performances.

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