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Friday August 17th 2018

Mildred Pierce | 1945

Mildred Pierce filming location: North Jackson Street, Glendale, San Fernando Valley, California
Mildred Pierce location: Mildred's modest home on 'Corvallis Street': North Jackson Street, Glendale, San Fernando Valley | Photograph: Google Maps

Darkly glittering weepie-noir, with working-class Mildred (Joan Crawford) selflessly slogging her way up in the restaurant business, only to be snubbed by her spoiled and ungrateful daughter Veda (Ann Blyth) – creepily prefiguring Mommie Dearest.

Oddly, Max Steiner’s score recycles the main theme from Bette Davis 1942 tearjerker Now Voyager. You half expect Paul Henreid to turn up with a pair of cigarettes.

It is, of course, mostly shot at the Warner Bros Studios in Burbank, although there are a few real exteriors around Los Angeles.

Mildred is seduced by smooth-talking snake Monte Beragon (Zachary Scott) at his beach house, which was the stylish Malibu home of The Snake Pit director Anatole Litvak. The spacious, sinuous deco interior was created on a soundstage.

The house itself stood at 26652 Latigo Shore Drive, a couple of miles east of Malibu, until January 1983, when it collapsed and crumbled into the sea during a violent storm. A modern house now occupies the site.

Most of the other homes in the film have gone, too. The Beragon mansion supposedly stood on Arden Road in Pasadena; the real estate office of Wally Fay (Jack Carson) on the eastern corner of Bel Aire Drive and Allen Avenue in El Miradero, just east of Burbank; and the various branches of ‘Mildred’s’ restaurant chain, which included real (though now gone) restaurants Kay’s Drive-In, 5155 Laurel Canyon Boulevard on the southeast junction with West Magnolia Boulevard in Valley Village west of Burbank, and Carl’s Sunspot, which stood at the junction of Pacific Coast Highway and Chautauqua Boulevard, in Pacific Palisades.

It’s often claimed that the police questioning of Mildred was filmed in Los Angeles Hall of Justice, but with the silhouette of City Hall on the city skyline as she leaves, it’s safe to say this was filmed in the studio.

One unlikely survivor is Mildred’s original modest home, ‘1143 Corvallis Street, where all the houses looked alike’, which is 1143 North Jackson Street at East Stocker Street in Glendale, a couple of miles southeast from the real estate office. Even the palm tree on the front lawn remains, and has thrived spectacularly.