Stella is determined, courageous, vulgar, unfashionable...and all her daughter has. Through the trials of teenagehood, to the problems of adulthood, Stella will do anything for Jenny...... See full summary »



(novel), (screenplay)

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2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ed Munn
Janice Morrison
Mrs. Wilkerson
Debbie Whitman
Jim Uptegrove
Pat Robbins
John Bell ...
Bob Morrison
Jenny (age 3)
Jenny (age 8)
Security Guard
Bob Gerchen ...
Willie Rosario ...
Dancing Waiter


Stella is determined, courageous, vulgar, unfashionable...and all her daughter has. Through the trials of teenagehood, to the problems of adulthood, Stella will do anything for Jenny...ending in an selfless, unforgettable sacrifice. Written by Jennifer Valley

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Romance


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

2 February 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Minha Mãe Stella  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$20,240,128 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


An early scene in the movie sees Bette Midler giving a pretend strip-tease. Her co-worker at the bar is played by Linda Hart. Three years later the actresses co-starred in the made-for-TV production of Gypsy, with Hart in the role as stripper Miss Mazeppa. See more »


When Ed leaves Stella's in a huff on Christmas Eve, he slams the front door and the wreath falls off. However, when Stella says goodbye to Jenny, the wreath is hanging up again. See more »


References The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968) See more »


Boy Meet Girl
Written by Trevor and Bartock & Lansky
Performed by Trevor
See more »

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User Reviews

Criminally Underrated
18 December 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I think it was Ebert who gave Stella four out of four stars but, other than his, I have never read a positive review of this sadly misunderstood drama about class divisions, love, and sacrifice (three themes most great romantic stories or films have in common).

Here the major theme is class division. Stella is a story from depression era America. That said, it was translated to the screen then in such a memorable fashion that this remake (if you ask a Stanwyck fan or two) was not exactly appreciated. Fans of the original never gave it a chance. Furthermore, this version of Stella was made in the 1990s, not exactly a time of great financial trouble in America (as the depression was).

Now is the time to remove the rosy-coloured glasses, in the midst of a new era of recession and poverty in America, and see that this powerful story still rings true, is as timely and relevant as ever, in its updated format.

Yes, class divide is the major theme here. Stella is among the working poor, single, with big dreams but little hope of realizing those dreams. She works in a bar, doesn't have much money, lives in a crummy apartment. You get the drift. In the morning, she doesn't really want to get out of bed. On her wall, pictures of movie stars she idolizes.

A man sees her dance at the bar. He's wealthy, educated, from one of those upper class families that has nothing in common with Stella's. His major concern is what ivy league college to attend, her's is how to pay the rent, how to be 'happy.' They have an affair. They like each other. Stella ends up pregnant. Stella tells the guy the news. His response? "How about an abortion?" She replies, "I just wanted a room full of balloons." He supplies the balloons, and the proposal, but she sees his heart is not in it, and has too much pride to accept. She sends him packing.

Her daughter is eventually torn between the two lifestyles--the love she has for her mom and the advantages and happiness and love held out to her by her wealthy father. Stella, alone and unloved, and not wanting her daughter to become as unhappy as her someday, makes the ultimate sacrifice. She gives up the only love and happiness she has ever known to ensure the happiness of her daughter, and perhaps live vicariously, and with hope, knowing that at least her daughter found something to live for.

Now, for the movie. Everything is right about it. Beautiful score, artful cinematography, great set design (contrast between the two lifestyles; the messy apt. and the decorated mansions), wonderful and heartfelt performances by the whole cast, with Bette Midler, in particular, Oscar-worthy.

This is a film which is much more significant and well-made than you've been led to believe.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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