From time to time, I recommend movies that teach valuable lessons for Christians to consider. Mildred Pierce (1945, Warner Bros.) is worth watching if only to see Joan Crawford at her best. It’s an engaging drama that begins with a shooting and then covers the significant events that led to the murder. The story is primarily about a woman named Mildred whose husband leaves her for another woman. With her husband gone, Mildred is challenged to provide what she considers a “good life” for her two daughters, but she is determined to see that the have everything they want.
And that is precisely the problem. Mildred’s obsession with making life easy for her children spoils one of her daughters, Veda, to the point that Veda hates her. In the end, financial security evades Mildred, despite the fact that she sacrificed practically her entire life to the restaurant industry in order to obtain such security.
Thankfully, rather than painting a rosy picture of how fighting for worldly riches is a recipe for success and happiness, this film is a vivid illustration of 1 Timothy 6:10: “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.” In Mildred Pierce the root produces murder, drunkenness, disobedience to parents, lying, uncontrolled anger, adultery, and estrangement. Mildred’s heavenly treasury is empty (cf. Matthew 6:20; 1 Timothy 6:17-19). Mildred truly pierces herself through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:10).
The film also depicts the tragedy of a parent who, instead of showing authentic agape for her children, is motivated by selfish desire to prove her own ability to provide for her daughters and to succeed in the business world—a desire that is thinly veiled by the false name, “love.” Godly, loving discipline (e.g., Proverbs 13:24; Ephesians 6:1-4; Hebrews 12:7-11) is abandoned in favor of covetousness, with disastrous results.
Another lesson comes from the men in the life of Mildred Pierce. None of the men are, as my dad says, “worth shooting” (although at least one of them gets shot anyway). Find examples in this film where a man could have made a great difference in the lives of many people if he had exhibited strong, biblical leadership.
You may be wondering if Mildred repents in time to save herself and any of her loved ones. I won’t spoil it for you. Download and watch Mildred Pierce with your family tonight and discuss it—the script is so well written that you are likely to find lessons I have overlooked.