A Zachary gallery with an excerpt from my article on Scott in The Dark Pages’ Giant Mildred Pierce issue:
Zachary Scott aced the part of Mildred Pierce’s second husband Monte Beragon, smooth operator, elegant aristocrat and opportunistic loser, appealing at first glance but admittedly spoiled and afraid of work. “I loaf. Oh, in a decorative and highly charming manner.”
It was a tough balance to strike, making the character both attractive and deserving of murder, but Scott had proven on stage and in three previous films that he had the talent for such a task. Joan Crawford was one of Scott’s supporters when it came to casting him as Monte, due to her enjoyment of his turn in the excellent noir THE MASK OF DIMITRIOS (1944). Where DIMITRIOS had him playing a mysterious, unseen figure with little screen time, MILDRED PIERCE (1945) let him be him flashy and flamboyant, with seventeen wardrobe changes. That fashion show almost didn’t happen since Warner Bros. higher-ups threatened to nix the clothing budget and make both Scott and Jack Carson wear their own suits.
When the shoot was over, all indications were that the movie would come out fine despite delays, some budget and censorship issues, plus source novel author James Cain’s disappointment with some aspects, including the addition of Monte’s murder. During the period before the film’s release, Zachary Scott was apparently swamped by one of his frequent bouts with depression. Feeling insecure about his performance being inadequate, he basically wrote a letter of apology to producer Jerry Wald:
“I want to tell you that Mildred Pierce has been a thoroughly happy experience for me and that I greatly appreciate all the kindness, attention, and consideration which have been shown to me personally during the shooting of the film…I feel a little as though I had let you down these last few weeks. But the honest fact is that I am as unwell as I have ever been in my life…”
This apology was unnecessary, and Wald assured him of that, replying that his work was wonderful. Most viewers and critics seemed to agree once Milly Pierce, as Scott liked to call the movie, was released. For Scott, Milly was a huge step into film immortality and greater earnings, as his salary hit $1500 a week.
Source: Zachary Scott: Hollywood’s Sophisticated Cad, by Ronald L. Davis.