King Vidor's adaptation of Oliver Higgins Prouty's famed tearjerker stars Barbara Stanwyck as the eponymous heroine. Eager to escape from her neighborhood on the wrong side of the tracks and the home of her tyrannical father, Stella sets her sights on Stephen Dallas (John Boles), a plant manager from a wealthy family. After a brief courtship, Stephen and Stella marry and have a baby girl named Laurel. As time goes by, however, Stella's loud and vulgar manner and penchant for garish clothing begin to grate on Stephen, and she's equally put off by his perpetual lectures on correct behavior. She also begins spending much of her time with Ed Munn (Alan Hale), who shares her tastes, although not her bed, further alienating her husband. The couple decides to separate and Stephen soon marries Helen Morrison (Barbara O'Neil), a woman of similar background. Although Stella devotes herself to her daughter, she gradually comes to the painful realization that Laurel would have a better life away from her influence. So, feigning indifference, she sends her off to live with her father in New York. Stanwyck gives what may be her best performance, investing a character who could easily drown in pathos with energy, intelligence, and dignity. The ambivalence of Vidor's attitude toward the character and toward the issue of class in America also adds to the film's resonance.