The life of a Norwegian immigrant family in 1910 San Francisco centers around Mama and her detailed, pennywise household budget. We follow the Hansens' small joys, sorrows, and aspirations, with the boisterous antics of Uncle Chris as counterpoint. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In order to physically submerse herself in the role of Mama, Irene Dunne wore no make up and used body padding to make herself appear heavier. See more »
In the shots of the uncle's trip to San Francisco, as the ferry is pulling into the dock, the Oakland Bay Bridge is seen in the background. This bridge was not built until 1933, yet this movie is set circa 1910. See more »
Self-sacrificing matriarch leads immigrant family to prosperity
The timeless story of the sacrifices a mother makes to assure her family (especially her children) always have everything they need is a best selling novel, a charming Broadway Musical, and best-known as the star-studded 1948 movie classic.
Irene Dunne plays "Mama", the matriarch of a Norwegian immigrant family in early 1900's San Francisco. She and "Papa" are poor, but proud, raising several "American born" children. A repeated statement that they "won't have to go to the bank" eventually is revealed as a "white lie" told by Mama so the children wouldn't worry about the family's financial state. There really was no "bank".
The narrator is a teenage girl (wonderfully played by Barbara Bel Geddes), giving the viewer an insight into her extended family, often sharing funny moments, but also showing very touching scenes. A young Ellen Corby ("Grandma Walton") is wonderful as Aunt Trina, who is not taken seriously by her relatives, but gains respect when she is courted and wed by a man who loves and treats her well.
The film introduces each family member individually, then describes the person, until the viewer seems "at home", knowing everyone well. The film climaxes with the lead character (Bel Geddes) reading the introduction to her first published book ("I Remember Mama"). -- This film is a delight to watch from beginning to end. Be sure to keep a box of Kleenex within reach! This film has my highest recommendation!
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