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Mommie Dearest

            Joan Crawford wanders into her children's closet while they sleep and comes across a dress placed on a wire hanger. She flies into a rage, screaming "NO WIRE HANGERS!" and then proceeds to beat Christina with the hanger. When she tires of that, she drags the child into the bathroom, and forces the child to clean the floor, which she has deemed unclean. "NOTHING IS CLEAN!" she exclaims. "CLEAN UP THIS MESS!" This scene has become the most infamous of the film Mommie Dearest, which depicts the life of Joan Crawford form the perspective of her adoptive daughter Christina. The film begins in 1939, when Crawford, already a huge star but unhappy and childless, decides to adopt children. It ends with her death, when the grown-up kids are left out of her will. As a neurotic, driven perfectionist, Crawford takes her frustrations out on her children, especially the rebellious Christina, and instructs them to call her "Mommie Dearest.".
             Choosing to stay focused on the horrors her children endured while shying away from her immense talent, the film shows Joan in an unfavorable light. Christina's first-handed testimonies into her mother's destructive lifestyle lack all sense of humanity; she observes, reacts, but never takes a moment to truly question why her mother became such a maniac at some intervals and such a saint during others. Joan emerges from the film as a classic villain. Evil and conniving and out to ruin the lives of her children, who may or may not have only been adopted as a publicity stunt. The last line of the film makes its intent abundantly clear: Christina is getting the last word on her drunken, disciplinarian mother for once in her rotten, tortured life.
             The film opens with Joan waking up at four in the morning and going through her very precise beauty regimen scrubbing away at her face and hands with hot water as if the dirt were her biggest enemy. After a trip to the studio for some filming of Ice Follies we find her on the floor of her house scrubbing away the dirt, as the maids cannot clean it well enough.

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