The classic film noirs –The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, The Big Sleep – are not always known for their complex or sympathetic female characters, so often characterised as dissembling sirens or maidenly ideals. Not so with Michael Curtiz’s Mildred Pierce, a pitch dark noir whose eponymous anti-heroine (Joan Crawford) is surely one of the most compellingly flawed women of the genre. Faultlessly resilient yet maddeningly weak, Mildred could have been lifted from the pages of Greek tragedy, a woman with seemingly inexhaustible personal resources brought down by a fatal flaw.

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