Mama didn't leave the Old Country and move into the Larkin Street house to become rich. She left because all her siblings and in-laws were already setting down roots in the U.S.A.. Family was where Mama always fit best. Right in the heart of things.
Director George Stevens made his transition from breezy prewar films to the acclaimed masterworks of his later career with this tender charmer about a Norwegian immigrant family in 1910 San Francisco. Irene Dunne (as Mama), Barbara Bel Geddes (the matriarch of a very different family in TV's "Dallas"), Oscar Homolka and Ellen Corby (Grandma on "The Waltons") all earned Academy Award nominations, giving performances embraced in the smile-making glow of a bygone era, ties that endure and, most of all, Mama.
Irene Dunne stars as the title character in George Stevens' beautifully wrought film version of the Kathryn Forbes novel via John Van Druten's stage adaptation. Returning, in memory, to her childhood in 1910 San Francisco, novelist Katrin Hanson (Barbara Bel Geddes) thinks of the importance of her mother Marta's (Dunne) role in the life of the family of Norwegian immigrants. As she deals with the children's problems and aspirations, such as brother Nels' (Steve Brown) schooling, Katrin's writing ambitions, young Dagmar's (June Hedin) illness, and a thousand other daily dramas, Marta manages to make all feel equally loved. She's also able to deal with eccentrics like the blustery family patriarch, Uncle Chris Halvorsen (Oscar Homolka), the family's highly literary non-paying tenant Jonanthan Hyde (Cedric Hardwicke), and spinster Aunt Trina (Ellen Corby), who is almost afraid to announce her forthcoming wedding. A final gesture of Marta's generosity at Katrin's graduation is symbolic of the spirit that is her legacy. Despite its potential for sentimentality, the film is redeemed by its nearly flawless execution as well as its insights into the most familiar aspects of domestic life. Superbly written, acted, and directed, perhaps the film's best performer is cinematographer Nick Musuraca, whose extraordinary deep-focus compositions remind one of the equal significance of every character.
Description by Warner Home Video:
Irene Dunne stars in this nostalgic picture directed by George Stevens as the mother anyone would love. Chronicled by her aspiring-writer daughter (Barbara Bel Geddes), Mama is the matriarch of an immigrant Norwegian family in 1910 San Francisco. She and her husband bring up their four children with great humor and hope, amid genteel poverty in a new land. Meddling relatives, illnesses and near-death draw the family together, and all are close to Mama, the one person who can make things right. Nominated for five Academy Awards, this endearing and heartwarming classic brings together a flawless supporting cast, including Philip Dorn, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Edgar Bergen, Rudy Vallee and Ellen Corby.
Family Interaction |
The Turner videocassette is part of the "RKO Collection."
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