Sunday, December 13, 2015

Stella Dallas

Barbara Stanwyck nowadays is known for playing the quick-talking dame who isn't afraid to speak her mind. Stanwyck of course was a consummate professional, dabbling in a variety of genres throughout her career. As a result, she's known as one of the greats of Hollywood's Golden Age.

Her work in King Vidor's Stella Dallas proves that. As the self-sacrificing titular character, Stanwyck plays a woman who first wants the best for herself but her intentions soon shift to her daughter. A story familiar in both fiction and real life, certainly, but an effective one if done properly.

This was released at a time where studios were regularly churning out melodramas. So how does Stella Dallas stand out? Having a big name like Stanwyck certainly helps but there's another aspect to the film that also helps it. It shows the differences in the classes of society, how one person's dressed up could be another person's gaudy.

Back to Stanwyck for a moment. As mentioned earlier, she's held in high regard for the impact her career had. And her work in Stella Dallas proves that she was capable of more than just playing the street smart dame from the Big Apple. She could also play the caring matriarch with ease.

Stella Dallas isn't high amongst Stanwyck's best-known films but it's certainly one that's worth a look. It proves that you don't need a sappy script to make an effective melodrama. It shows its age occasionally, yes, but that shouldn't stop you from seeing it.

My Rating: ****

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