Stella Dallas is a small town girl who marries the upper class Stephen Dallas, with whom she has nothing in common. After the birth of a daughter, Laurel, the Dallases go their separate ... See full summary »
Working-class Stella Martin marries high-end Stephen Dallas and soon they have a daughter named Laurel. But Stephen's incessant demands of Stella to become what she isn't leads to their eventual separation. Stephen later marries Helen Morrison (his prior fiancée), and Laurel becomes the focus of Stella's life and love. Nothing is too good for Laurel as far as Stella is concerned. Determined to give her all the advantages, she takes Laurel on a trip to an expensive resort where Laurel makes friends with rich kids. After an embarrassing incident, Stella realizes that her daughter would go farther in life without Stella as her mother. Her subsequent sacrifice is shattering.Written by
I love this movie and have seen it time and time again. This doesn't have the control and grace of a Douglas Sirk melodrama (and it is certainly earlier than Sirk), but this movie still has "stacks of style" as Stella herself would say. Extremely well set up story even if it is a bit far-fetched in places. Barbara Stanwyck is, well... pretty much unbeatable. She is one of the few actresses who can walk that tightrope between trashy and classy and make the two not feel mutually exclusive. As much as her character is overblown or enlarged from reality, this role is one that is a good deal more complex than most. Stanwyck was not an actress who felt she had to play everything for sympathy with the result that the moments when you feel bad for her hit you even harder than you expected. The birthday party scene is triumphantly painful and not to be missed. Anne Shirley ,who plays Laurel Dallas, Stella's daughter, I would bet will be overly sweet for a lot of viewers (myself included) but her manufactured sweetness only brings the complexity of Stella herself to the fore. This film never really misses a beat. It knows what it wants to do and it does it as unapologetically as Stella would.
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