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.
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Barbara Stanwyck can do more with melodrama than any other actor I’ve ever seen. She possesses a special ability to take something potentially sappy on the page and turn it into something genuinely honest on the screen.
The story is nothing amazing but Barbara Stanwyck's performance and King Vidor's direction are worth the watch. The last 20 minutes are incredibly heartbreaking so have the box of Kleenex handy. I'd describe Stella Dallas as the nicer cousin of Mildred Pierce and Of Human Bondage. If none of these things are a draw for you, save yourself the time...
It's far for being one of the best Vidor's work, still is a magnificent film and he completely broke my heart. Just a few women I could compare to Barbara Stanwyck (All that heaven allows, Imitation of Life, Mamma Roma, Mater Dolorosa or Mildred Pierce are rare exception), still is hard to find a more beautiful film about motherhood.
First rate melodrama underpinned by a wry critique of the idle rich and their conventions. A heartbreaking tale of wisdom painfully won by a social climber at odds with the confining and contradictory rules of the elite. Despite all the trappings of excess, less indeed seems to be more in this world. In stark contrast, Stella conspicuously bubbles over with elan, life and love for her daughter. Stanwyck is stunning.
Remarkably unconventional drama which gradually builds into a tragic melodrama by defying any traditional structures and remaining seemingly plotless for at least the first half. Instead it develops a number of unique and respectful relationships which confound expectations and ultimately function as either a film about the sacrifice of motherhood or the corrosive nature of class. Empowering and very moving.
Beautiful and complex characters. Wonderful expressions of love and relationships, mother daughter, parent, child - society, "bettering ourselves" - survival. So fantastically captured in stunning camera shots. Focused so brilliantly on the eyes of these inspiring actors in so many moments, the eyes tell us all. In every stride, and flick of her fur, Barbara Stanwyck IS Stella Dallas.
This could potentially have been one of the sappiest films ever, but Stanwyck breaks your heart in several moments, particularly towards the end. Some very memorable moments here. Reminds me a lot of my parents and how they tried to raise me. 4.5 stars