Joan Crawford got a bad rap for the whole Mommy, Dearest thing.. but ya know, she was in a ton of films and a lot of them very good. My absolute, hands-down favorite is Mildred Pierce (1945). It is a crazy ride. Every time I watch it I yell at the television hoping my objections will make it turn out differently (they do not). Plus, I love film noir. There are some other great actors in the film also: Jack Carson, Eve Arden and Zachary Scott. Joan's m.o. is being a bitch, but in this movie the tables are turned! Gasp!
It should be mentioned that there is a mini-series on HBO presently based on MP. I really would like to see it, but I don't have HBO so I'll be waiting for it to grace Netflix. It stars the beautiful Kate Winslet (fab) and surely has a great supporting cast but I didn't feel like researching it. (okay, I know Evan Rachel Wood plays that bitch!, Veda) Some liberties were probably taken and though I'd recommend watching the mini-series, first watch the original. It also happens to be a book which I have definitely not read.