In April 1978, six months prior to the publication of Christina Crawford's memoir, "Mommie Dearest," she sold the book's film rights to Paramount and producer Frank Yablans. The film's screenplay went through multiple rewrites; actress Anne Bancroft, who was originally cast in the lead role, left the project; and during this lengthy ordeal Christina attempted to purchase her book's film rights back.
By the film's release date in September 1981, Christina's memoir and allegations had left an impression in the public's mind for nearly three years.
However, the film was an even more distorted depiction than the false depiction in Christina's memoir. Upon viewing the film Christina denounced it as unauthentic, and later called the film "grotesque," "unrealistic" and said of Dunaway's portrayal, "this is not my mother."
The film's content is largely fictionalized, and the most infamous abuse scenes are not even accurate to Christina's allegations. For example, Christina never claimed in her memoir that she was beaten with a wire hanger, or that her mother chopped down a tree using an axe. These scenes were created specifically for the film, and are not true, even when going by the allegations in Christina's memoir.
While 99% of the film is inaccurate and heavily fictionalized, below is a list of the most inaccurate (and, unfortunately, infamous) scenes in the film, which have left an indelible mark on the public's mind. Click the scene to read a page debunking it.
The "Louis B. Mayor" Scene
The "Axe" Scene
The "Wire Hanger" Scene
The "Strangling" Scene
The "Pepsi Board Room" Scene