Stella Dallas (1937 film)

Stella Dallas is an American Filmmelodrama from the year 1937. Was directed by King Vidor, the film stars Barbara Stanwyck and Anne Shirley. The film has a long tradition of productions about self-sacrificing mothers as Madame X, The House on 56th Street and The Life of Vergie Winters, who enjoyed especially in the early sound era wide popularity.


The young worker Stella Martin wins by a deception, the highly educated but penniless Stephen Dallas to lure them into marriage. The class differences and Stella's complete lack of social polish condemn the relationship from the beginning to fail. Shortly after the birth of their daughter Laurel to separate the couple. Stephen allows Stella to keep the daughter, because he knows about her selfless love for Laurel. The years pass and Stephen arrives to enormous wealth, while Stella starving in distressed financial circumstances. It is her despite his lack of education managed to make Laurel a young lady with perfect manners and excellent manners. Stephen, who reunited with his old high school sweetheart Helen and marries want want to pick up on the occasion of his daughter to him to give her all the wealth and the luxury of Laurel entitled to his opinion.

Stella refuses strictly to consent to a divorce. All attempts by Stephen to convince his daughter to join him are ignored from Laurel. She loves her mother and feels responsible for it. Things take a dramatic turn when Stella organized with much love a birthday party for Laurel and to make all the girlfriends of Laurel invites. While mother and daughter on the festive table waiting for the guests to come by and by the cancellations. All alone with her ​​sad daughter Stella gradually comes to his senses and realizes that only Stephen is able to Laurel to give the position in society that it deserves. Want to Laurel refuses persistently to leave their mother, but will notice as Stella, one night, as Laurel is crying to sleep, because make her friends openly about their vulgar mother funny, Stella takes refuge in a List. She meets secretly with Helen Morrison and consecrates them in their plan to completely withdraw from Laurel's life. Mrs. Morrison is deeply impressed by the absolute unselfishness and overwhelming sacrifice of Stella and agrees to support the idea. Stella deceives Laurel, by pretending to get involved with a man of low and drives her daughter finally able to join her father. To prevent any chance of reconciliation from the beginning, Stella breaks with outbreaks played with her daughter. Years later, Stella stands as haggard old woman outside the window of Stephens City house and sees the wedding of Laurel with a respectable young man of the best society. A policeman wants to drive, but Stella begs, nor be allowed to stand still for a moment, until the rings are exchanged.


Stella Dallas, a bestseller from the early 1920s through the infinite depth of the love of Olive Higgins Prouty mother had already been adapted in 1925 by Samuel Goldwyn with Ronald Colman and Belle Bennett. Ten years later, the financial success of the remake of The Dark Angel, the first in 1925 Goldwyn also brought in the rental, producer, Stella Dallas convinced again to bring before the cameras. The production was problematic. The initially proposed for the role of Stella Ruth Chatterton refused after her performance in Dodsworth recently again to play an unsympathetic woman. William Wyler, the first choice as director, also showed no desire to completely outdated in his eyes fabric to stage again. In the meantime, the producer tried the actresses Laurette Taylor and Betty Compson to win, but not convinced at the end of the possibilities. It was brought Joel McCrea, Barbara Stanwyck on the Goldwyn in the role of Stella Dallas. For the character of Lauren the choice finally fell on Anne Shirley, who had come in 1934 with the film adaptation of the classic children's book Anne of Green Cables to fame, whose career since then but hardly further developed. Filming ran lengthy. King Vidor was by his own admission do not have access to the material and the two actresses complained incessantly about Vidor's obvious disinterest. When the film finally was released, everyone was surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response from the critics.

Stella Dallas is in the portrayal of female self -sacrifice in a tradition of films like The Life of Vergie Winters, which included the standard repertoire of every studio since the beginning of the sound film era. These films, so-called confession tales to German commitment films, portrayed the suffering of women who had been on the wrong man, and all the problems that had opened after the failed relationship. Very often the heroine was forced to support herself and the child can pursue unworthy pursuits. Frequently remained her either choose to become prostitutes, as Helen Hayes in The Sin of Madelon Claudet or Marlene Dietrich in Blonde Venus. Or they gave freely their child up for adoption, as Ann Harding in Devotion and Gallant Lady or Kay Francis in The House on 56th Street.

The enduring popularity of these stories was also the fact that almost the same time as Stella Dallas two more films came to the cinema, in which the heroine will do anything to give their children a better life: Valiant Is the Word for Carrie with Gladys George and Confession starring Kay Francis.


Stella Dallas was at the Oscars 1938 nominations in the categories

  • Best Actress - Barbara Stanwyck
  • Best Supporting Actress - Anne Shirley


The critics praised the play of unison Stanwyck and Shirley, the plot found but outdated. King Vidor was recognized for his production, which would make it possible to keep the events in the river. One reviewer brought the general consensus and the great popularity to the point when he stated