Trivia / Mommie Dearest

  • AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains:
  • AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes:
    • #72, "No wire hangers, ever!"
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: It's "No wire hangers!", not "No more wire hangers!"
  • Creator Backlash: Faye Dunaway regrets having played Joan Crawford in the movie version and doesn't like to talk about it, either. Christina Crawford also regretted it being made, feeling it went too far making Joan a Hate Sink to a point of Narm.
  • Deleted Scene:
    • Faye Dunaway talks about a scene between Joan and the young Christina on the beach, where they would have a heart-to-heart. It would explain some of Joan's erratic behaviour and serve to humanise her a little. Dunaway was shocked that such an emotional scene was shot so early in production, and took that as a warning sign that the filmmakers' priorities weren't in the right place. The scene ended up cut.note 
    • There was a long sequence filmed, where Christina runs away from home and Joan goes out looking for her in the car.
  • Disowned Adaptation: Christina Crawford felt the film was awful too for going overboard in making her mom Joan a Hate Sink, saying "my mother didn't deserve that".
  • Genre-Killer: While the book spawned a slew of nasty tell-all "memoirs" by children of famous celebrity parents that continues to this day, this film seemed have killed the idea of turning those books into major motion pictures, save for a television movie every now and then.
  • Genre Popularizer: As mentioned, Christina Crawford's book started a slew of mean-spirited books written by children of famous actors about their parents' alleged abusive and loose behavior. Lampshaded in The Golden Girls, in a bookstore Sophia says she's going to go browse in the "Bitter children of celebrities" section.
  • Hey, It's That Place!: Christina's soap opera set is the Cunningham home from Happy Days.
  • Parody:
    • MAD Magazine referenced Mommie Dearest in their After the End satire of Who Framed Roger Rabbit from issue #284. With Roger's career already in decline, his daughter adds to his problems by publishing a tell-all book called "Bunny Dearest: A Hare-Raising Shocker".
    • Robin Williams also parodied this in one of his stand-up comedy routines that he called "Daddy Dearest", in which his hypothetical child berates his father's performance in the movie version of Popeye.
  • Meta Casting: In an interview in the 1970s, Joan Crawford had said that only Faye Dunaway was among the current crop of actors who "had what it takes" to really become a star. So Joan was played by Faye Dunaway in the movie.
  • Parody Retcon: The movie started being advertised as a parody a few weeks after its release. Posters were changed to read, "Meet the biggest MOTHER of them all!"
  • Star-Derailing Role:
    • Faye Dunaway, considering nobody could take her seriously after this role.
    • In a roundabout sort of way, Joan Crawford herself, who died years before the film came out. Nowadays, more people associate her with this campy movie about how she abused her daughter then the films that made her famous.
  • Troubled Production:
    • Faye Dunaway took the part only after Anne Bancroft had passed on it. After winning her Oscar for Network, she had slowed the pace of her career, doing only three movies and a TV miniseries while she and her boyfriend, Terry O'Neil, tried to have a baby. They finally adopted an infant in 1980, just before production began, meaning Dunaway experienced all the problems new parents experience on top of the demands of the production.
    • She hoped the part would be her return to the kind of films she had been making in the early '70s that led to her Oscar. She had taken it after producer Frank Yablans and director Frank Perry convinced her they would try to humanize the domineering, abusive mother Christina Crawford had depicted in her controversial bestselling memoir. However, Crawford was afraid the producers were trying to tone it down ... so she got her husband, David Koontz, hired as executive producer to look out for her interests. Dunaway responded by getting O'Neill the same title. And both of them made the most of what would be their only movie credit ever by regularly being present on set and loudly arguing their cause with the producer and director, requiring them to walk an extraordinarily thin line creatively.
    • Meanwhile, the role and the method acting Dunaway brought to it was taking a physical and psychological toll on her. She had to keep her face muscles contorted in a particular position to get her Joan Crawford look right, often holding that position between takes despite the pain it was causing her late in the day. At home at night, she found she was unable to leave it at the office, feeling as if she were haunted by Crawford's ghost.
    • It all came to a head during the day when they shot the most famous scene in the movie, the "no wire hangers, ''ever''!" scene. Many of the crew on set thought she had actually become possessed by the late actress's ghost. After several takes, she collapsed, as O'Neill yelled "No more wire hangers!" at Perry, meaning they were done with that scene. It turned out that in addition to the nervous exhaustion, she had also destroyed her vocal chords. It took a doctor recommended by Frank Sinatra to get them back to the point where she could speak again, and Dunaway admitted later she lost her passion for the role that day.
    • As a result she began to play diva for the rest of the shoot, off camera in addition to the one she was playing on. She refused to work with the historic expert wig maker hired for all the other actresses and instead made the production hire the stylist who had done Goldie Hawn in Private Benjamin. Legendary costume designer Irene Sharaff, who had worked with some of the Golden Age's legends (and legendary divas) such as Judy Garland in her 40 years in the industry, said she'd never worked with anyone as demanding and difficult as Dunaway; eventually she quit the film.
    • Dunaway's histrionics getting prepared for the part caused numerous delays. As a result there was often time to do only one close-up for any scene involving other members of the cast, making it unlikely to be used. She couldn't stand anyone looking at her while she was acting, so not only were the sets closed, all the other actors had to either stand behind the camera with their backs to her. If they absolutely had to be on the set during the take, Dunaway insisted on the scenes being reblocked so they wouldn't be facing the camera. Rutanya Alda, who played Carol Ann, recalled in her own diary of the production that for one scene that takes place later in the movie's timeline, she wore old-age makeup but Dunaway refused to do so herself, so it looks like she's been time-traveling.
    • In her own diary, Dunaway says the movie stressed everyone out so much there was no wrap party. However, Alda recalls that there was and Dunaway just didn't show up. It has been speculated that maybe the rest of the cast was so sick of her by that point they just told her there wasn't one.
    • The completed film thus became a Camp Classic and not the serious biopic it was originally hoped it might be. For Dunaway it was arguably a Star-Derailing Role, in the sense that she was never able to get her career back on track to what it had been before.
  • Truth in Television: Some modern audiences are confused at the film where Christina's soap opera seems to be both performed live and being recorded at the same time. This was a technique called "live tape" where television shows were performed as if live, including timed pauses for commercial breaks, but recorded for later broadcast.
  • What Could Have Been...:
    • Anne Bancroft had been cast as Joan initially, but left the project after the screenplay was completed. She viewed the film as a "hatchet-job", many other actresses having turned down the part for it being too unsympathetic towards Joan.
    • Franco Zeffirelli intended to direct the film, but had a vision of Joan Crawford as a glamorous Hollywood martyr. Christina Crawford, who wanted her mother to be a despicable Hate Sink like in her book, disliked this and thus it didn't happen.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Trivia/MommieDearest