Mommie Dearest (film)

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Meet the biggest MOTHER of them all!
Did you scrub the bathroom floor today? DID YOU?
The greatest role of her life...was her life.

Mommie Dearest is a 1981 biographical drama film about the abusive and traumatic upbringing of Christina Crawford at the hands of her adoptive mother, screen queen Joan Crawford.

Directed by Frank Perry. Written by Robert Getchell, Tracy Hotchner, Frank Perry, and Frank Yablans, based on the 1978 autobiography of the same name by Christina Crawford.
To my darling Christina, with love...Mommie Dearest taglines

Joan Crawford

  • NO... WIRE... HANGERS! What's wire hangers doing in this closet when I told you NO WIRE HANGERS, EVER?! I work and work 'til I'm half-dead, and I hear people say, "She's getting old." And what do I get? A daughter... who cares as much about the beautiful dresses I give her... as she cares about me! WHAT'S WIRE HANGERS DOING IN THIS CLOSET?! ANSWER ME! I buy you beautiful dresses, and you treat them like they were some dishrag! You do! $300 dress on a wire hanger? We'll see how many you've got, if they're hidden somewhere! We'll see! We'll see! Get out of that bed. All of this is coming out! Out...out...out...out!!! You got any more? We're gonna see how many wire hangers you've got in your closet! [throws items out of Christina's closet onto the floor despite Christina's protests, and soon discovers a second dress on a wire hanger] A wi... wire hanger! WHY?! WHY?!!!! Christina, get out of that bed. Get out of that bed! You live in the most beautiful house in Brentwood... [begins beating Christina with the hanger; Christina tells her to stop hurting her as she shrieks and bawls in pain] ...and you don't care if your clothes get stretched out from wire hangers?! And your room looks like some $2-a-week furnished room in some two-bit back street town in Oklahoma! Get up! Clean up this mess!
  • [addressing the fans camped out in front of her house on Oscar night] I would rather be here with you than anywhere else in the world. You, all of you here and everywhere, gave me this award tonight. And I accept it from you and only you. I love all of you. Now please forgive me, good night.
  • [addressing the men in the Pepsi boardroom] DON'T FUCK WITH ME FELLAS! This ain't my first time at the rodeo. You forget the press that I delivered to Pepsi was MY POWER. I can use it any way I want. It's a sword... that cuts both ways.
    • Note: the word "fuck" is redubbed as "mess" in some censored versions
  • TINA! Bring me the axe!
  • You're a lousy substitute for someone who really cares.
  • [yelling at her children for making noise when she is trying to take a nap] Christina, Christopher! DAMMIT!!!
  • [about Christina's refusal to eat her meat] WHY must EVERYTHING be a CONTEST?!

Christina Crawford

  • [lecturing her baby dolls after making Joan mad] You were very, very bad to wake Mommie up like that. VERY naughty. I told you, Mommie has to be beautiful today. This afternoon, she has to see MISTER MAYER. Today is so important. You are thoughtless and selfish. You must learn to think about other people. You are bad, bad spoiled children.
  • Adopted children are luckiest because they were chosen.
  • [in tears, after the "wire hangers"/bathroom cleaning incident] Jesus Christ!


Joan: Did you scrub the bathroom floor today? DID YOU?
Young Christina: Yes, Mommie.
Joan: Yes, Mommie what?
Young Christina: Yes, Mommie Dearest.
Joan: When I told you to call me that, I wanted you to mean it.

Young Christina: [Entering Joan's bedroom after seeing her dolls are missing] My babies! Someone stole both my babies!
Joan: That's good, darling. They were thoughtless, selfish, spoiled children - now they won't wake you up when you need your rest.

[Joan has just easily beaten Christina in a pool race]
Joan: Oh, you lost again.
Young Christina: It's not fair. You're bigger than I am, it's not fair to win twice.
Joan: AH, but nobody ever said life was fair, Tina. I'm bigger and I'm faster. I will always beat you.
Young Christina: Then I'm not gonna play with you anymore. EVER!
Joan: Don't you EVER use that tone of voice with me, missy. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU'RE TALKING TO?! I'll tell you what you're gonna do, you're gonna MARCH yourself UPSTAIRS to your room and you will STAY THERE until I tell you to come out.
Young Christina: No I won't.
Joan: No you won't? Yes... you... WILL! [Spanks Christina's butt two times]
Young Christina: OW! OW! I won't go!
Joan: All right, all right! [drags Christina to the door of the pool house despite the girl's protests] You will stay in here until you are ready to behave-
Christina: I WON’T GO!
Joan: And... and to APOLOGIZE!
Christina: NO, I WON’T!
Joan: IN! [shoves Christina into the pool house and shuts the door]
Young Christina: [sobbing, inside the pool house] AAAAAAH, MOMMIE!

Joan: [after discovering dirt underneath a large indoor planter] Ohhhh... Helga. When you polish the floor, you have the move the tree. If you can't do something right, don't do it at all.
Helga: I'm sorry, Miss Crawford...
Joan: Gimmie the soap. You see, Carol Ann, you've got to stay on top of things every single minute. [the doorbell rings] Carol Ann, will you get that?
Carol Ann: Yes, Miss Crawford.
Joan: Helga, I'm not mad at you, I'm mad at the dirt.

[Young Christina has a bloody piece of steak on her lunch plate]
Joan: Christina, you haven't touched your lunch.
Young Christina: It's raw.
Joan: It's rare, not raw.
Young Christina: But it's got all this red juice when you push on it.
Joan: Then don't push on it. Darling, rare meat is good for you. The doctor said so. Christina, meat loses its vitamins if it's overcooked.
Young Christina: But I've had my vitamins this morning. Pills.
Joan: [to Carol-Ann] She negotiates everything like a goddamn Hollywood agent. Christina, eat your lunch. You are not getting up from this table until you have finished that meat.

Christina: There's a liquor store to the right.
Joan: I should've know you'd know where to find the boys and the booze.

Joan: Why do you deliberately defy me?
Christina: Why did you tell her I got expelled?!
Joan: Because you did get expelled.
Christina: That... is a lie.
Joan: [smacking Christina hard across the face twice] You love it, don't you? YOU LOVE TO MAKE ME HIT YOU!
Barbara: Joan!
Joan: Barbara, PLEASE! PLEASE, Barbara. Leave us alone, Barbara. If you need anything, ask Carol Ann. [laughs bitterly] This is wonderful. THIS IS WONDERFUL. YOU - You deliberately embarrassed me in front of a REPORTER. A REPORTER. I told you how important this was to me, I TOLD YOU.

Joan: I don't know what to do with you.
Christina : WHY NOT!?
Joan: I don't ask much of you, girl! Why can't you give me the respect that I'm entitled to?! Why can't you treat me... like I would be treated by any STRANGER ON THE STREET?!
Christina: Because I am not... one of your FANS!!!

Young Christina: [in Joan's room, looking into the mirror, imitating her mother] Oh yes, it was thrilling. So grateful to you all, my wonderful fans, who made me a star. Oh yes, it was thrilling. So grateful to you all, my wonderful fans, who made ME a STAR. [notices her mother standing behind her] ...Mommie!
Joan: What do you think you're doing?
Young Christina: Nothing. I'm just... I'm just... playing.
Joan: What do you mean, "playing"? Are you going through my things? Making fun of me?
Young Christina: I wasn't making fun of you. I was just trying to... I was acting, play-acting, like you're always doing.
Joan: Look at yourself. [takes a metal hair accessory out of Christina's hair and throws it on the table angrily, and then grabs a hairbrush and begins to frantically try to brush the product out of Christina's hair]

[Having failed to brush the setting lotion out of Christina's hair, Joan begins to cut off all of Christina's hair]
Young Christina: [crying] Oh, Mommie, I look awful!
Young Christina: [sobbing] Mommie, I can't go to school like this!
Young Christina: No, Mommie, please don't! Mommie, I can't go to school like this...

Christina: Why did you adopt me?
Joan: [surprised] What?
Christina: Why did you adopt me?
Joan: Because I wanted a child. Because I wanted someone to love.
Christina: Don't you act for me. I wanna know. WHY DID YOU ADOPT ME?!
Joan : Maybe I did it for a little extra publicity... [realizes what she has just said] Tina! That's not true! You know that's not true.
Christina: But maybe just a little true?

Joan: You know what's missing in my life?
Greg: A hit movie.

Joan: [after an ugly fight] I didn't mean that, Greg. I didn't mean it.
Greg: Get up. There's no camera in here.
Joan: Greg, where ya goin'?
Greg: Where I belong. Out of here.
Joan: You belong here. I'm waitin' for ya.
Greg: Good night, Joan.
Joan: Please don't leave, because if you do, you'll never come back in again, no matter what you say, or ask, or do.
Greg: I'll always wish you well, Joan. And I'll only speak well of you.
Joan: Please don't go! Don't leave me here alone. Please.
Greg: If you're acting, you're wasting your time. If you're not, you're wasting mine.
Joan: I'm not actin'! I'm not actin'.
Greg: Good night. Good luck. Goodbye.

Mayer: Joan, my Joan, you're in a position to do me a favor that will be as big a favor for you as it is for me.
Joan: You don't have to ask! You only have to tell me.
Mayer: Good. I want you to leave Metro.
Joan: Leave Metro? Leave Metro?
Mayer: Your pictures one after another are losing money. Theater owners voted you "box office poison". Still for years I've paid no attention. You know me, Joan. I don't give up so easily. We'll pay you off on your contract. But you can't afford to make three or four more losers for us.
Joan: It's the scripts, L.B. Bad pictures, bad directors...
Mayer: Bad with you, good with others.
Joan: No, listen to me L.B., I have been BEGGING YOU... begging you for a good script. Now you've always given me my share of bad movies because you knew I'd make them work. Well I can't keep doing it, L.B.!
Mayer: Listen with your ears and not with your pride. With me, feeling is more important than money. You're a great star! You're Hollywood royalty! But styles change. You'll leave. We have 'creative differences'. Other studios will think they're smarter than L.B., they'll try to finesse me. You'll be offered two, three, four films. You may even get a hit!
Joan: [in tears] Will you be sorry then?
Mayer: I'm sorry now. But here there's no feeling, no hope. New faces, new voices, breath of fresh air, who knows. Don't do this to yourself.
Joan: I'll have my maid and studio people clear out my bungalow. I've got a lot of years to collect.
Mayer: It's done, Joan. They've packed your things, they're loading your car.
Joan: You mean everybody already knows?
Mayer: That we parted friends because we didn't agree.
Joan: Will you walk me to my car? [L.B. doesn't answer] "Hollywood royalty".

Carol Ann: [embracing Christina at Joan's funeral] Chris-tina! Tina!
Christina: Carol-Ann.
Carol Ann: My little Tina. She always loved you so very much, Christina.
Christina: I need to believe that. I need so much to be able to believe that now.
Carol Ann: She did.

Lawyer: [reading from Joan's will after her death] It is my intention to make no provision herein for my son Christopher or my daughter Christina, for reasons which are well known to them.
Christopher: What reasons?
Christina: [laughing bitterly] Jesus Christ.
Christopher: As usual, she has the last word.
Christina: Does she? [pause] Does she... ?


  • To my darling Christina, with love...Mommie Dearest
  • The meanest mother of them all...
  • Meet the biggest MOTHER of them all!
  • The greatest role of her life...was her life.
  • Faye Dunaway is Joan Crawford, a star...a legend...and a mother...The illusion of perfection.
  • One thing is certain: You'll never look at a wire hanger the same way again!


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