Real Bad Moms: Movies Based on True Stories

Movies based on true stories sometimes show some pretty bad moms, those unnatural characters we are just not conditioned to understand. It’s even weirder when the actress is playing against type as was the case in 2009 when comedienne and actress Mo’nique portrayed one of the most abusive screen mothers of all time in “Precious” as this clip shows. (Warning: very profane language).

The role won Mo’nique the Best Actress Oscar. But that was a fictional story based upon the novel “Push”. Here are some movies based upon true stories that all feature some very unconventional mothers as well as some much-loved actresses playing against type.

Betty Broderick was played by Meredith Baxter

Meredith Baxter, most famous for her role as Alex Keaton’s mom, Elise, in ” Family Ties,” played convicted murderer, Betty Broderick, covering the story in two parts up until 1992: A Woman Scorned and Her Final Fury. Broderick’s husband left her for a younger woman after she had spent years helping him build up a successful career. The betrayal sent Betty spiraling into madness. The once wonderful wife and mother killed her ex-husband and his new wife.

Meredith Baxter’s chilling portrayal of Betty Broderick earned her an Emmy nomination. In January 2010, the real Betty Broderick was denied her first attempt at parole. She failed to show remorse or take responsibility for her crimes, blaming “voices in her head.” UPDATE: Broderick’s second bid for parole was denied in January 2017.

Ann Woodward was the basis for Ann Grenville

Ann-Margret has played weird moms more than once. In 1975, she played Roger Daltrey’s fictional wacko mater in the rock opera “Tommy.” In 1987, she played Ann Grenville, based on the sensational 1955 case of Ann Woodward.

Three books have been written on this topic. Ann-Margret’s movie was based upon the Dominic Dunne book, The Two Mrs. Grenvilles. The movie bore the same title and also featured Claudette Colbert in her last TV film role, as Ann-Margret’s frosty blue-blooded mother-in-law. If you know anything about Dominic Dunne, you’ll know that power and privilege are also involved.

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12 Responses

  1. VJ says:

    well, “Mommie Dearest” was a true story, Cece… not that I doubt there have been/are women as abusive as Precious’ mom in real life. Still, that Joan Crawford story was reprehensible to me (I read the book, too). Actress Helen Hayes said “they” knew (stars in Joan’s circle) she was mistreating those kids but they were afraid of Joan. Still, she said, she didn’t “hold” with those tell-all stories. So in other words, Crawford’s legacy was more important. Shameful. I wonder what Hayes would think of the Cosby mess.

    PS – Faye Dunaway’s portrayal of Crawford was as amazing as Meredith Baxter’s as Betty Broderick!

    • Cece says:

      Yeah, I know Precious is fictional and Mommie Dearest isn’t; I was just speaking in terms of watching dysfunctional moms on the screen. Although Joan Crawford was a despicable excuse for a mother I was able to sit through Mommie Dearest when I rented it. Now Precious, although I know to be fictitious, I just cannot watch it.

      Yes, it is shameful that Crawford got away with a lot. And this Hayes person would probably think that Cosby’s legacy needs to be protected too.

      • VJ says:

        There’s actually supposed to be two more pages to this article but I guess the next page function in this theme isn’t working. LOL.

        I’m looking to try a new theme out on here next week. If I don’t like it, I guess I’ll tackle fixing that.

        • Cece says:

          Good plan. :):)

          On another note (still regarding movies), yesterday we watched “Séraphine” again — about the artist Séraphine de Senlis. We saw it at the Theatres years ago. It’s simply stunning. Have you ever seen it?

        • VJ says:

          no, but thanks for the tip — I just looked it up on IMDB and they have it on there.

          Right now I am watching this comedy Walk of Shame LINK

        • Cece says:

          On its comedic merits, how do you rate it?
          (I haven’t seen it.)

        • VJ says:

          I guess about a 7 since I watched it to the end. I’m kind of notorious for not watching movies till the end. LOL. It was amusing.

  2. Cece says:

    Precious’mom makes “mommie dearest” seems angelic by comparison. Just watching the above clip made my solar plexus cramp up. I don’t know how anyone could/can sit through the whole movie.