Mildred Pierce Describe The Film "Mildred Pierce" As A Film Noir That Has Been Influenced By Both The Maternal Melodrama And The Remarriage Comedy

1614 words - 6 pages

There are a few themes that seem to be consistently analyzed in film, the two big ones being the nature of family and of sexuality. Dizzy damsels in distress, aging repressed patriarchs, trustworthy buddies, repressed housewives, fumbling villains- these are just some of the archetypes who are used to tell the film’s story. But as universal as these archetypes are, it is in the angle they are shown from and the way their story is told that truly defines the details of a film. Whether or not the view is a negative or positive one, for example makes a large difference in the film. Even more subtle then are in the tiny messages the characters carry. The lead female character, because of the very exhibitionist nature of femininity, is a primary tool in films to express fundamental themes and ideas in the narrative. In “The Awful Truth,” for example, a screwball remarriage comedy starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, Dunne’s character is representative of the fun and free world Grant cannot fundamentally accept. The concentration on her beauty and general attractive nature makes the audience feel positive and her ending relationship with Grant lessens the importance of children in a family. Film noir heroines accomplish a very different end in that they are a manifestation of all of society’s greatest fears about Post-War loss of innocence. Sometimes, however, these genres and portrayals of specific characters are not so easy to label because the ideas behind them begin to blend into each other. Although Mildred Pierce is fundamentally, due to its stylistics and prominent themes, a film noir, it’s remarriage comedy influences and strong maternal melodrama themes make put it in its own genre category. The whole ending of the movie, sans the successful conversation, leaves the unshakable taste of the remarriage comedy genre in one’s mouth. For example, the ending happiness of remarriage comedies is achieved through the man changing. In Mildred Pierce, Mildred is able to return to Bert after he gets a better job and is able to financially be her equal if not supporter, taking his appropriate role in the home.The complicated nature of this film is made clear in its critique of capitalism and society in that while the message is fundamentally film noir, the execution is in the same style as the remarriage comedy and maternal melodrama. As in most film noirs, it is the heroine, Veda, whose desire for wealth destroys her and everyone around her. In Monte Beragon, Veda sees immediate opportunity to seduce the playboy, a man clearly weak for women, to get from him what she can. The scene is reminiscent of Stella’s first meeting with Stephen Dallas in the famous maternal melodrama, “Stella Dallas.” Her first time sitting in Stephen’s office, she admires his fancy suite. That he owns an expensive suit immediately impresses Stella and reminds her of what Stephen can give her. Upon meeting Monte, Veda...

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