Podtalk: A. Ashley Hoff on ‘With Love, Mommie Dearest’ Event at Chicago's Music Box, June 4, 2024

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CHICAGO – “With Love, Mommie Dearest” is a new book by A. Ashley Hoff, chronicling the making of the camp classic. Chicago’s Music Box Theatre will screen “Mommie Dearest” and Hoff will sign his new book on June 4, 2024. Click CRAWFORD for tickets/details.

The 1981 film “Mommie Dearest” has a place in cultural history, and author A. Ashley Hoff decided to do a deep dive into the history of the film in his new book (the subtitle is “The Making of an Unintentional Camp Classic”). The story of this only-in-show-business happening starts with its production history, culminating in the film’s release – anticipated with studio backing and awards consideration prestige – only to devolve quickly after early screenings.

‘With Love, Mommie Dearest: The Making of an Unintentional Camp Classic’ by A. Ashley Hoff
Photo credit: Chicago Review Press

When Paramount Studios understood that audiences were reacting with laughter to the extreme nature of the melodrama … adapted from a best-selling book by Christina Crawford, about the relationship with her movie-star mother Joan Crawford … the company quickly shifted the marketing to emphasis this somewhat gleeful camp value, and the angle cemented its cult status. “No wire hangers!”

The plot of “Mommie Dearest” features Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway, in a performance that can best be described as histrionic) adopting Christina (Mara Hobel as child, Diana Scarwid as adult) and raising her under a iron fist, which included psychological and – as depicted in the film – physical abuse. The arc of their mother/daughter dynamic, from childhood to Christina’s acting career, contains a number of confrontations that pushed the boundaries of dramatic taste to the level of weird hilarity.

The ‘Mommie Dearest’ Event
Photo credit: MusicBoxTheatre.com

A. Ashley Hoff looks at this funhouse mirror of the movie “Mommie Dearest” through the hows and whys of the making and its aftermath as camp. He is also the author of “Match Game 101: A Backstage History of Match Game” and “My Huckleberry Friend: Holly Golightly and the Untold History of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” He previously worked for talent agencies in Chicago and Los Angeles, and has written articles on Hollywood history for The Advocate and Films in Review.

In Part One of a Podtalk with Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com, author A. Ashley Hoff starts our journey down the rabbit hole with “With Love, Mommie Dearest: The Making of an Unintentional Camp Classic” …

In Part Two, regarding director Frank Perry, Faye Dunaway and Joan Crawford of “Mommie Dearest” …

In Part Three, no wire hangers and Hoff’s favorite line of dialogue …

In a video clip, A. Ashley Hoff gives the deets for his appearance at the Music Box Theatre on June 4th for the “Mommie Dearest” event …

A. Ashley Hoff appears on behalf of his new book “With Love, Mommie Dearest: The Making of an Unintentional Camp Classic” … available wherever books are sold … with a screening and book signing at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre on June 4th, 2024 (7pm).

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Editor and Film Critic/Writer

© 2024 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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