Trying to narrow down all the chick flicks about mothers and daughters was not that easy. I have a few favorites and for some reason they all seem to be tearjerkers. Perhaps you have some favorites of your own.
Stella Dallas is a classic chick flick about the sacrifices a mother makes for her daughter. Barbara Stanwyck stars as the working class girl with big plans, Stella Martin.
Stella works at the factory of Stephen Dallas (John Boles) and eventually catches his eye. Stephen didn’t know what hit him and before he knew it, Stephen married Stella. Soon they have a daughter, Laurel. Stella is not a bad person. It’s just that she and the high-born Mr. Dallas as from two entirely different worlds.
Those kinds of things may not matter in 2010, in our age of political correctness and ‘we are all equal‘. But in 1937, class was a very real thing. Not only did Stella come from the lower class, but she didn’t have any–class, that is.
Stella was the kind of girl who drank beer out of the bottle, told bawdy jokes, laughed loudly had not taste in fashion and had inappropriate friends. Stella is what we would call tacky or gauche. Despite Stephen’s efforts to educate on proper manners, she was just plain old Stell. “Perfect” Stephen could take and they divorced.
Where does that leave Laurel Dallas? With her mother in a small house on the wrong side of the tracks. I guess they didn’t have alimony and child support in those days. Stella and Laurel have a wonderful relationship. Stella tries hard to provide best things for Laurel, but she can’t afford the expensive best things that Stephan can provide.
By now, Stephen has remarried (one of his own this time) and Laurel is a beautiful young woman with the upper class sensibilities of her father. Each time Laurel returns home from visiting her father, she is full of stories about the parties, tennis, and the joys of living with the upper crust. By now How can Stella compete with that? What hurts more is Laurel’s admiration for the new Mrs. Dallas, Helen.
‘Helen does her hair this way…Helen and her sons always do things this way or that….Helen is so refined and elegant.
Laurel loves her mother, and she is aware of the affect her admiration of her step-mother has on Stella. Laurel stops telling her mother about the details of her visits with Stephen and Helen, as well as about Dick, the wealthy young man who is attracted to her. Stella wants to show Laurel how much she loved her, so Stella books them into an exclusive resort to show Laurel the kind of ‘high class times‘ she experiences at her father’s home.
When Laurel overhears some snooty people making comments about her mother, she pretends to be sick and makes Stella take her home early, hoping to spare her mother any embarrassment. But on the train ride home, Stella too overhears what people were saying about her and how it will affect Laurel’s changes of marrying her wealth beau. Here comes the part about a mother’s love and sacrifice.
When Stella realizes that she is standing in the way of Laurel’s happiness, she goes to Helen asking her to ‘take’ Laurel. To help Laurel in a way that Stella could not. I have told you too much already and I don’t want to spoil the incredible flood of tears that you will experience at the end of this movie. However, Stella makes the ultimate sacrifice to ensure her daughter’s happiness.
What are your favorite Mother’s Day movies?