In retrospect George Steven's production of "I Remember Mama" is the high water mark in 1940s family life melodrama. Set at the turn of the last century in San Francisco, the film stars the usually scatterbrained Irene Dunne; on this occasion as the tender yet determined matriarch, Martha Hanson. Together with her husband, Lars (Philip Dorn) and extended family (buttressed by a stellar cast including Barbara Bel Geddes, Cedric Hardwicke, Ellen Corby, Rudy Vallee, Edgar Bergan and Florence Bates) the Norwegian clan weathers some hard knocks and poignant moments with grace and charm. This is one of those elegant little `jabs of pleasure' that American cinema used to dole out en masse during its golden age, but now seems rendered in exceedingly short supply. Based on John Van Druten's hit play (derived from Kathryn Forbes's autobiographical memoir), the film is a veritable feast for the heart and mind; a richly textured and moving experience - not to be missed.
Unfortunately more could have been done to clean up this print before rushing it out to DVD. Warner's transfer is marred by a considerable amount of age related artifacts. Though the gray scale is nicely balanced at times, the image often tends to exhibit an overly soft quality that is more blurry than evocative of mood or style. There is also a considerable amount of film grain present in most scenes. Otherwise, black and contrast levels on the whole tend to be deep and nicely balanced. There are no digital anomalies. The audio is mono and suffers at times from a muffled characteristic. Background hiss is detected in quiescent scenes. A brief introduction by the director's son, George Steven's Jr. is all the extras you get. Bottom line; this film still gets my recommendation for a must have Christmas stocking stuffer. It may not be presented here in its optimal condition but regardless, is sure to warm the heart throughout the holidays and beyond.