It was the notorious camp-fest movie blamed for derailing Faye Dunaway’s glittering career…but now the Academy Awards has finally chosen to celebrate it, 42 years on.
Oscars bosses have raised eyebrows by sharing an 83rd birthday birthday tribute to the star using only clips of her infamous 1981 movie Mommie Dearest.
Fans of the actress have even accused the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of taunting Dunaway with its choice of the over-the-top Joan Crawford biopic, which she is known to dislike and bans interviewers from mentioning.
One wrote underneath: ‘She will hate this so much, thank you.’
Oscars bosses raised eyebrows with a birthday tribute to Faye Dunaway comprising clips of her 1981 movie Mommie Dearest – which Academy bosses snubbed for awards and which the 83 year-old actress is known to dislike. Dunaway is seen in one of the Joan Crawford biopic’s many memorable scenes, where she berates adopted daughter Christina for using wire hangers
Also included in the tribute was this scene, beloved of camp fans everywhere, where Dunaway’s Crawford bellows ‘Tina, bring me the ax!’ to her adopted daughter while chopping down a tree in a rage after being fired from MGM
Dunaway won an Oscar in 1977 for her role as a ratings-obsessed TV executive in Network – but no clips from that movie were used in the controversial birthday tribute
Commenters on the tribute post were quick to flag the unusual choice of movie
Another said: ‘So epic that the academy post this on her birthday… best present ever.
A third said: ‘This movie ruined her career and she haaaaaaaaaates the movie so much lol.’
And a fourth wrote: ‘I have feeling that whoever uploaded this will receive a very unpleasant voicemail.’
That was a reference to a furious voice message left by Dunaway for a journalist who’d once asked her too many questions about Mommie Dearest, instead of her other movies.
The Oscars tribute included all the movie’s most memorable scenes – including this infamous confrontation between Joan Crawford and the bosses of Pepsi, whose board she sat on
Dunaway (left) played the role of Joan alongside Mara Hobel (right), who played the role of Christina Crawford, which divided critics and left audiences howling with laughter
The movie was inspired by a memoir written by Joan Crawford’s adopted daughter Christina, pictured in 2019, who accused her mother of abusing her
The Oscars’ Instagram tribute features many the campest clips from the movie, including Dunaway screeching ‘No wire hangers!’ before beating adopted daughter Christina, played by Mara Hobel, after finding the offending items in a closet.
Also present and correct was the moment where Dunaway screams ‘Tina, bring me the ax,’ while a crazed Joan destroys her rose garden after being told she is ‘box office poison’ and dropped by the boss of MGM Studios.
Dunaway’s Joan was also seen screaming ‘Don’t f**k with me fellas, this ain’t my first time at the rodeo,’ to members of Pepsi’s board when its members tried to oust her from her seat on it.
Mommie Dearest was based on a tell-all book published by Joan’s adopted daughter Christina a year after her mom died in 1977, where she accused the Hollywood icon of being an abusive mom. Christina wrote the book after being disinherited by Joan.
The decision to celebrate Mommie Dearest is an odd one, given the Academy completely snubbed the movie for nominations after its release in 1981.
It ended up sweeping the boards at the Golden Raspberry Awards for the worst movies, with Dunaway named worst actress there.
Christina and Joan are pictured together. Mother and daughter are said to have endured a fractious relationship, with Joan disinheriting her daughter after her death from cancer in 1977
Dunaway won a best actress Oscar for her role as a ratings-obsessed TV executive in 1976’s Network, but no footage from that movie was used.
She was also nominated for best actress for Bonnie and Clyde in 1968 and Chinatown in 1975 – but clips from those movies were mysteriously absent too.
Dunaway took the part in Mommie Dearest likely believing the harrowing subject matter would bring her a fourth Oscar nomination.
The big-budget movie had stunning sets and amazing costumes from legendary designer Irene Sharaff, who also worked on the original West Side Story, Meet Me in St Louis, Cleopatra and An American in Paris.
Dunaway was also applauded for her incredible physical transformation, which saw her use makeup and muscle contortions in her face to strike an eerie resemblance to Crawford.
But her high hopes were shattered after the movie was released, with audiences dissolving into howls of laughter at its turbocharged, campy scenes.
The movie quickly became a cult hit and remains hugely popular in the gay community.
Reviewers were divided on Dunaway’s performance – with both the New York Times and New Yorker lavishing praise on her portrayal of Crawford.
Variety’s review was scathing, though, with its critic saying: ‘Dunaway does not chew scenery. Dunaway starts neatly at each corner of the set in every scene and swallows it whole, costars and all.’
The actress is said to have been left badly-shaken by the Mommie Dearest debacle and moved to England with photographer husband Terry Richardson and their son Liam for much of the 1980s.
The couple split in 1987 and Dunaway returned to the US.
Dunaway’s career never-again reached the heady heights of her 1960s and 1970s blockbusters, although Mommie Dearest has since been re-evaluated by many critics who’ve hailed the film and the actress’ astonishing performance.
She did discuss the movie in a 1995 episode of Inside the Actors Studio, saying: It was never modulated directorially, I’m sorry to say it became camp.’
In 2008, a Guardian interviewer told how he’d been banned from mentioning Mommie Dearest during an interview with Dunaway.
Dunaway is pictured in one of her most famous roles, as notorious bank robber Bonnie Parker in 1967 smash hit Bonnie and Clyde
Dunaway is pictured at the 2017 Oscars – where she and Warren Beatty wrongly named La La Land winner of best picture, instead of Moonlight
She later ended the chat in a rage after he questioned her about claims she’d hurled a cup of urine over director Roman Polanski while filming Chinatown.
And in 2016, the actor told People she blamed the movie for harming her career.
She said: ‘I think it turned my career in a direction where people would irretrievably have the wrong impression of me.’
Dunaway also claimed her ferocious portrayal of Crawford tarnished the public’s perception of her.
The actress has been accused of being difficult and was fired from a Broadway-bound play in 2019 after allegedly creating a ‘hostile’ and ‘dangerous’ working environment.
Dunaway had one more big brush with Oscars fame – when she and Bonnie and Clyde co-star Warren Beatty wrongly announced La La Land had won best picture in 2017, instead of rightful winner Moonlight.
But unlike the fraught relationship between Joan and Christina Crawford, Dunaway’s son Liam is most definitely one of her fans.
He shared the Mommie Dearest Academy tribute clip to his Instagram page Saturday, writing: ‘@theacademy showing some love.’