This timeless, tawdry Joan Crawford melodrama is based on the James Cain story of a ruthless career woman (Crawford) who will do anything to ensure her daughter Veda (Blyth) gets all the advantages she never enjoyed. Veda grows into a spoiled monster; but the other characters surrounding the hard-working Mildred aren't too sympathetic either, whether it's the oily Monty Berrigan (Scott) whom Mildred thinks she loves, or lascivious realtor Wally Fay (Carson), who just might help Mildred if she becomes friendlier. There's a foul odor in this town, and it may be the scent of murder.
Here, Curtiz the master creates a diabolical murder yarn. Crawford resuscitated her fading career with the driven Mildred, a part she was born to play — and won an Oscar for it. The Oscar-nominated Blyth grates as the hateful Veda (hard for her not to), and Scott and Carson each ooze their particular brand of acid as the calculating men in Mildred's life. For a vicarious glimpse into seamy small town intrigue, you can't beat this one.