Kate Winslet takes on the ghost of Joan Crawford, Mildred Pierce
by Allison Waldman, posted Aug 14th 2009 12:29PM
Well, nobody can accuse Kate Winslet of not being courageous. The actress -- also an Oscar-winner for The Reader -- is going to do a remake. Right now Mildred Pierce is slated as a miniseries starring Kate Winslet with Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven) writing and directing. HBO is first in line to broadcast the mini, but the contracts haven't been signed yet.
Remakes always make me a little queasy. After all, for every success like The Fugitive, there's a debacle like The Wild Wild West. But this time around it's not a television series being remade, it's a famous and semi-classic Oscar-winner, Mildred Pierce. The name alone evokes images of Joan Crawford with shoulder pads you could die for and a horrible teenage daughter played by Ann Blyth.
Mildred Pierce is based on a 1941 James A. Cain novel about a down on her luck housewife who rises from waitress to restaurant owner, all in the name of giving her daughter a better life than she had. Along the way, there are men to romance her, some in vain and some are just no damn good. If you don't remember the film, you might recall an infamous Carol Burnett satire of the movie -- Mildred Fierce -- on The Carol Burnett Show.
The 1945 Warner Brothers' film was a major comeback for Joan Crawford after a long stint at MGM where she was a glamor girl. Back going blue collar for Mildred Pierce, Crawford relaunched her career and changed her image forever.
There's no word on whether Haynes intends to keep Mildred Pierce set in the 1940's, but he should. The story is a period piece and the issues wouldn't translate as well to 2009, if you ask me. I imagine that mini won't have the censor's constraint imposed on the 1945 film when the Production Code was in play and certain things could only be implied, not shown. Haynes should go back the Cain novel and really tell the original story.
It should be interesting, and if there's one actress who could make you forget Joan in the role, Kate might be it. She's nothing if not fascinating on screen, and -- if you ask me -- she can wear shoulder pads as good as Joan did.