Barbara Stanwyck, although barely 30, convincingly plays the loving mother to a young adult daughter. Coming from a working-class background, the young "Stella" is determined to climb the social ladder. Her meeting with executive "Mr. Dallas" seemed to be mutual love-at-first-sight. Soon after their child, Lollie, is born, Stella's disposition changes. When hubby suggests the family move to New York to be near his business dealings, Stella flat refuses.
The action skips about 16 years, showing a grown-up Lollie, still happily living with her mother. During a visit with the father and his wealthy new wife, Lollie is showered with expensive presents, and asked to stay with them permanently. Lollie refuses, insisting that her place is with Mother.
Here is where the Kleenex moments come in: Having overheard some cruel dialogue about them while traveling with Lollie in a train compartment, Stella, unable to provide the lavish life her daughter was sure to enjoy with the father, puts on a bawdy act of meanness and cruelty, to turn the daughter away. The ultimate heartbreak is the scene of Lollie's Wedding Ceremony (which I will not devulge).
Lollie's character is basically a sweet young woman, devoted to her mother. When at an outing with her friends she denies the mother (who is making somewhat of a spectacle of herself in a drug store), my sympathy for Lollie drops significantly. The scene is reminiscent of "Imitation Of Life", where the entire story is centered around the daughter's shame for her mother. This one spoiling scene seems unnecessary in the otherwise brilliant film. Still I highly recommend "Stella Dallas" to fans of the leading lady. The original radio play is also well worth the time!****