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
Barbara Stanwyck is the self-sacrificing "Stella Dallas" in this 1937 film directed by King Vidor and also starring John Boles, Anne Shirley, Barbara O'Neill, and Alan Hale.
The lower-class Stella Martin sets her sights on a successful businessman from an upper-class family, Stephen Dallas. The two marry and have a daughter, Laurel, but over time it becomes apparent that the marriage just can't work. Stella's a girl who just wants to have fun; the stuffy life and staid clothing just aren't for her. Stephen goes to New York to work, leaving Stella and Laurel in Boston. They both adore the little girl. But as she grows up into the lovely Anne Shirley, Stella thinks her slatternly presence may be limiting her daughter's chances for happiness.
This film is a major tear-jerker with an absolutely wonderful performance by Barbara Stanwyck as a warm, outlandishly dressed, and loud woman who nevertheless is devoted to her daughter and wants only the best for her. Anne Shirley is sweet and loving as her daughter, Barbara O'Neill is excellent as Stephen's ex-girlfriend, now widowed, and John Boles gives a gentle performance as the kind Stephen.
"Stella Dallas" will make you cry, but you'll be glad you saw it.
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