Stella Dallas, the [Import]
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True heroines don't always save lives. Sometimes they're simply mothers, with an everlasting devotion to their children. Such is the case in Stella Dallas. Starring Barbara Stanwyck in an Academy AwardÂ(r)-nominated* performance that's "as courageous as it is fine" (The New York Times), this enduring classic is a "vivid and authentic cross-section of American life [full of] deeply moving emotional power" (The Hollywood Reporter)! Even after her marriage to well-bred Stephen Dallas (John Boles) ends, irrepressible Stella (Stanwyck) is determined to give their daughter (Anne Shirley) the life she never had. And when it comes down to her child's happiness versus her own, Stella's sacrifice is truly the epitome of bravery. *1937: Actress
Barbara Stanwyck gave one of her inimitable and wonderfully enigmatic performances as a mill worker who marries her way into high society and soon experiences layers of frustration. Channeling her restlessness, she soon makes a positive though highly self-sacrificial decision on her daughter's behalf, and endures the agony of being replaced in her husband's life by an old, blue-blooded flame. King Vidor (The Crowd) directs with a fascinating sense of duality about Stanwyck's character: is her lower-caste vulgarity something to sneer at or something to applaud for the contrast she presents to the mannered upper classes? Stanwyck plays the riddle brilliantly, right down to the final moment of her character's weird self-satisfaction at being ostracized from her daughter's honeyed life. --Tom Keogh --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Barbara Stanwyck is the gem of this film, and she gives the most convincing performance (except for Alan Hale, her drunken friend, Ed). The movie begins with Stella, a girl from a working-class mill family, who dreams of marriage to Stephen Dallas, a well-to-do mill executive. With all the charm she can muster, Stella walks into Stephen's office at a crucial point in his life: he is in despair. She revives him, and the two are married within two weeks. What follows is rather predictable: the marriage was a mistake. Stephen's upper class society of manners and Stella's burning desire to experience the passion and wealth of life are sorely incompatible. After the birth of their daughter, Laurel, they part ways: he lives in New York, and she stays in Boston with their daughter. However, they do not divorce for nearly 15 years. Stella raises Laurel, and Stephen takes the child on vacations often. As Laurel grows older, it is obvious that her intellect and mannerisms mirror her father, and not her working-class, garish mother. Despite the fact that Laurel is essentially the only person or thing that Stella loves, Stella contrives a plot to deceive Laurel so that the teenage girl will willingly go live with her father, his new, beautiful, wealthy wife, and her three sons in a New York mansion.
Stanwyck's acting is superb, one of the best in her career. She convincingly portrays a woman who is trapped in her lower-class social status, but desperately reaches for money and associations with the "right people.Read more ›
Stella Martin is the daughter of an impoverished steel-mill family. She is ambitious, however, and when she catches the eye of the recently-broke Stephen Dallas, he pushes his feelings for his wealthy ex-girlfriend aside and makes the best of a bad situation. Unhappily married to the uncouth Stella, he spends more and more time away from her, taking only short holidays with his beloved daughter, Laurel. Stella soon realises that a mother's love cannot provide the best social advantages for Laurel, and makes the ultimate sacrifice for the good of her family.
Stanwyck's supporting cast are of a type, but they're still good - John Boles as Stephen and Barbara O' Neil as Helen Morrisson give strong performances. Alan Hale does an excellent job with the character of Ed Munn, a good-time gambler on the road to self-destruction. He plays the role with a sensitivity and pathos rare to films of this era. Anne Shirley as Laurel is cloying and sentimental, but then again, she's supposed to be.
It's Ms. Stanwyck's performance as Stella that saves this movie from mediocrity, and catapults it into the ranks of other big-league melodramas such as 'Now, Voyager' and 'Imitation of Life'. As Stella, she is perfectly capable of forcing us to empathise, and we respond in kind. Surely, hers is the ultimate sacrifice, and we are with her every step of the way.Read more ›
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!****
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Wonderful movie, you can not go wrong with a Barbara Stanwick movie.Published 15 months ago by Marilyn