James M. Cain's Novel Mildred Pierce: Comparing the Book and Movie Version

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James M. Cain's Novel Mildred Pierce: Comparing the Book and Movie Version

Mildred Pierce is one of the greatest novels written by James M. Cain. After the success of the novel, the Hollywood film came out, produced by Jerry Wald. The novel and the movie are very different from each other. “James M. Cain sent several letters of complaint to producer Jerry Wald, objecting to the changes Wald wanted to make, especially the dramatic idea of making Veda a washout musically and putting her in a tawdry nightclub” (Bennett Notes). The three main differences in the film were, the murder of Monte, Veda not having a successful career, and the time period only covering 1941 to 1945.

The main difference between the film and the novel was the murder that Hollywood added. Right when the film begins, it starts making the viewer think about who the killer is already. The novel doesn’t make the reader guess in any aspect. Jerry Wald makes the viewer think that Mildred is the killer at first, especially because she tries to commit suicide in the beginning of the film. Then it makes the viewer think that Bert is the killer for a while. Finally, the real killer is revealed at the end of the movie, which turns out to be Veda. The best thing about the movie was that it kept you guessing until the end. “Throughout the film we are never certain that Mildred is not Monte’s murderer. Even when she is cleared, she is not exculpated” (LaValley 12). Mildred tries to cover up for Veda again, by telling the cops that she killed Monte. The cops tell her that she can’t get her daughter off the hook this time. Finally, Veda ends up paying the consenquences for her action and goes to jail.

Another big difference between the novel and ...

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...vel was how the characters would survive the Depression, and how they would make money. “As the Depression deepened in 1932, jobs were few and far between. More than 10 million Americans were out of work” (Strock 12). The film’s plot was totally different, which mainly focused on who killed Monte.

Works Cited

Bennett, Bsabas A. Joan Crawford Online-Films:Mildred Pierce. 26 May. 2002. 30 May.2002


Joan Crawford Filmography. October, 2001. May 25, 2002.


LaValley, Albert. Mildred Pierce. Madison, Wisconson: The University of Wisconson Press, 1980.

Skenazy, Paul. James M. Cain. New York, NY: The Continuum Publishing Company, 1989.

Strock, Clancy. ‘We Had Everything But Money’. Greendale, WI: Roy Reiman

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