I count Joan Crawford among my favorite actresses. She had quite a film career from the mid 1920’s all the way up to 1970. Over the course of her career she was given the opportunity to portray many different roles. Perhaps her best known role is in the 1945 drama Mildred Pierce. The film wonderfully mixes elements of film noir, romantic drama, murder mystery and family melodrama. Joan Crawford is clearly the star of the movie. She is supported by an exceptional supporting cast, a compelling story and expert direction. Mildred Pierce deals with several themes including: murder, betrayal, divorce, entrepreneurship and deception. Conveying all of those topics in one film is a challenging task. Creating a single image to visually communicate so much information is a difficult accomplishment. At the end of the day the main goal of a film poster is singular. That goal is to compel moviegoers to spend their hard earned money on a film. Presented below are a few posters that were utilized to promote Mildred Pierce.
This Italian movie poster presents an absolutely stunning image of Joan Crawford as Mildred Pierce. Co-star Zachary Scott’s full face is obscured by the position of his head. The focus is clearly on the movie’s star Joan Crawford. The image captures the passion that the two characters experienced early in their relationship. The smaller image is a bit ambiguous, perhaps intentionally done so to avoid spoilers. The character may well be Ann Blyth as Veda Pierce, Mildred’s daughter, waiting in the wings for her opportunity. The depictions of Crawford and Scott are beautifully and realistically rendered. The smaller female figure less so. It could be Crawford or it could be Blyth. I am fairly confident that the figure is intended to be Crawford. The poster loses some points because of this small bit of confusion. The poster does successfully communicate that Mildred Pierce is more than just a romance movie. It may not touch on some of the films more prominent themes and it does not have to. The artist created enough mystery to potentially draw in viewers. Overall this is a fantastic poster for the movie.
This French poster is extremely colorful and eye catching. With the heavy use of red, one can not help but notice this poster. The closeup of Joan Crawford in the background is well rendered and quite captivating. The blue utilized by the artist draws the viewer into the beautiful eyes of Crawford. The artist made an interesting artist decision with the foreground image. By making this rendition of Crawford monochromatic the figure acts as if it were in the background. As a viewer the eye instantly goes to the high contrast image in the background. The poster does not tell you much of what the film is about. In this case that is not a bad thing. This poster is selling the star as the main reason to see Mildred Pierce. Stunning, beautiful, mysterious, eye catching, all of these descriptions apply to this poster.
A striking and mysterious image is presented here in this German movie poster. Like the two previous posters this one is selling Joan Crawford. Perhaps the artist’s portrayal of the title character is a bit too intense, slightly malevolent. The wonderfully illustrated foreground image does loosely depict a scene from the movie. However, the poster gives the impression that Mildred Pierce may be a film noir. Over the years some have classified Mildred Pierce as film noir. I do not share this opinion. The film, at times may have touches of noir, especially the opening sequence. Overall I would classify Mildred Pierce as a drama. This well made movie poster may give the wrong impression of the movie. That said, the drama contained within this poster makes it more successful than not.
This is an interesting poster that makes clear who the star of the movie is. It features a fantastic image of Joan Crawford. However, based on the poster design it is unclear as to what the movie is about. If I had never viewed the film, perhaps I would deduce that the film features a love triangle involving a dangerous gun toting woman. Even the text included on the poster gives a misleading notion of the film’s plot. The tagline, “The kind of woman most men want…but shouldn’t have!” is quite dramatic. That line may apply to the character of Mildred Pierce, but it does not convey the multilayered plot of the film. There are some questionable choices made by the poster’s artist. The muted color scheme is a curious choice. One has to wonder why Crawford’s beautifully rendered face seems to be appearing from inside of a mirror. Like the prior posters this one is selling Crawford. The execution is much more subdued, but Crawford is clearly the selling point.
With an actress like Joan Crawford often times she was the selling point of a movie. In many cases movies posters are created in a manner that conveys something of the movie’s plot. With Joan Crawford her face and name were the assets used to sell many of her movies. Some of the posters created for Mildred Pierce are prime examples of this practice.