Mommie Dearest | 1981
Just don’t say ‘camp’ in front of the notoriously touchy Faye Dunaway. But seriously, what other word could possibly describe this deliriously overheated biopic of Joan Crawford (based on daughter Christina’s ‘revenge’ autobiography), filmed as an old-fashioned Crawford melodrama.
The house where the great star scrubs frantically at the floors, hacks down rose bushes and declares war on wire hangers, is 417 Amapola Lane, off Bel Air Road, in the very exclusive community of Bel Air (this is a private home, so please do not disturb residents).
This is not, of course, the real Crawford house, which was not available for filming. This can be seen a couple of miles to the west, at 426 North Bristol Avenue, north from Sunset Boulevard in Brentwood. When Joan Crawford married Douglas Fairbanks Jr, the house was named ‘El Jodo’ (à la ‘Pickfair’).
MGM Studios, where La Crawford makes her movies, is at 10202 West Washington Boulevard in Culver City. The wonderful art deco frontage seen in the movie, however, is no longer visible from the street: it’s the eastern entrance at the end of Grant Avenue off Madison or Clarington Avenues, now part of the Sony lot. You can see the studio buildings on the Sony Pictures Studio Tour, departing from Sony Pictures Plaza, Madison Street at Washington Boulevard
Crawford dines at Perino’s, which stood at 4101 Wilshire Boulevard at Norton Avenue, midtown Los Angeles. The classic restaurant, seen also in American Gigolo, Dead Again and Lee Tamahori’s Mulholland Falls, which numbered gangster Bugsy Siegel and Cole Porter among its regulars, closed in 1983 and was replaced some years later by an apartment complex. The old canopied frontage can be seen around the corner on Norton Avenue.
Originally called the Hi-Hat, Perino’s in its heyday stood at 3929 Wilshire Boulevard, near Western Avenue. See it’s original incarnation in Sunset Boulevard, opposite the shop where William Holden gets kitted out by Gloria Swanson.
The private school, to which young Christina is bundled off, is Chadwick School, 26800 South Academy Drive on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, south of Los Angeles.