THE BEST OF EVERYTHING
1959, 20th Century Fox, 121 min, USA, Dir: Jean Negulesco

This adaptation of the Rona Jaffe bestseller follows the lives and loves of three young women (Hope Lange, Diane Baker and Suzy Parker) who share a Manhattan apartment and work together at a publishing house under demanding boss Joan Crawford. Beautifully shot by William C. Mellor, this delectable romantic drama brought composer Alfred Newman an Oscar nomination for the title song, and served as partial inspiration for the series “Mad Men.” Costarring Stephen Boyd, Louis Jourdan and future producer Robert Evans.


MILDRED PIERCE
1945, Warner Bros., 111 min, USA, Dir: Michael Curtiz

"Mildred had more to offer in a glance than most woman give in a lifetime."

Joan Crawford gives her signature performance (an Oscar winner) as James M. Cain's ultimate maternal martyr, in thrall to her own femme fatale daughter, Veda (a deliciously venal Ann Blyth). After Mildred divorces her cheating husband, she turns her pie baking skills into what ultimately becomes a successful restaurant chain – all the while, working to give her demanding, selfish daughter the best of everything - but even that isn’t enough for Veda! The twisted combination of high-strung soap opera and hard-edged pulp produced what may be the greatest Hollywood melodrama of all time.

"Loving her was like shaking hands with the devil."


JOHNNY GUITAR
1954, Republic (Paramount), 110 min, USA, Dir: Nicholas Ray

Joan Crawford is headstrong Vienna, a saloon owner waiting for the railroad to reach her town. Her friendship with charming outlaw the Dancing Kid (Scott Brady) jeopardizes her standing in the local community. Uptight landowners led by jealous Emma (a frightening Mercedes McCambridge) will do anything to repress her yen for the Kid, even if it means lynching half the town to do it. Enter Vienna’s old flame, Johnny (Sterling Hayden), a quick-draw who’s given up guns for a guitar. Only director Nicholas Ray could pull off this color-coded, violent, romantic tall tale rife with allegorical references to the rabid right wing of 1950s America. Victor Young did the lush score, with Peggy Lee singing the torrid theme song. Co-starring Ward Bond, Ernest Borgnine, John Carradine.


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