Mildred Pierce Part IV

Previously on Mildred Pierce: Mildred opened her first restaurant, to great acclaim, and started raking in enough cash to keep Veda somewhat satisfied. She also allowed Monty to start a seriously inapproprate relationship with her young daughter, and when she finally wakes up to that (and to how totally insufferable he’s making her kid), Mildred breaks up with him.

Jaunty music brings us to the coast, where waves crash, seagulls wheel, and Mildred and Lucy arrive at a large clapboard house to scope it out as the next outpost of Mildred’s fast-growing waffle house empire. Lucy approves, even though she wonders if Mildred’s stretching herself a bit thin, financially, having already opened a second place in Beverly Hills, run by Ida. Mildred wants Lucy to run the new beachfront place, and after some persuading, Lucy agrees, as long as they don’t do chicken. She knows people don’t come to the shore for chicken, so they’ll come for surf ‘n turf instead, which Lucy apparently invents right then and there. I’ve never really understood the great appeal of surf ‘n turf. I’ve never looked down at a plate and thought “you know what this lobster really needs? A steak!” I mean, how much saturated fat and cholesterol do you really need in one dish?

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Mildred Pierce: Part I

Now that they’ve conquered the 1920’s with Boardwalk Empire, HBO’s decided to move on to the ‘30’s, and they made the rather gutsy decision to do Mildred Pierce, a novel that already has a classic movie version starring Joan Crawford, who won an Academy Award for the role. HBO countered that by bringing their own Oscar winner—Kate Winslet, and stuffing the rest of the cast with other highly respected actors (including recent winner Melissa Leo, who plays one of my favorite characters). It’s early days yet, so it’s hard to tell if this version treats the source material better than the 1945 film. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Moody music plays against an art-deco background that looks a bit like stylized sunbeams. Interestingly, the supporting players are all introduced before Winslet and the title. They come at the very end of the credits, in big, bold letters.

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