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on June 15, 2005
Barbara Stanwyck never gave a bad performance. She was consistently good in everything she did. But this performance tops all the rest! Her Stella tears the heart out of you...she gets on your nerves, yes, but the love she shows for her daughter is genuine and Stanwyck shows all the multifaceted dimensions of this character. She truly shines in every scene, particularly the final fadeout! She deserved the Oscar nomination she received for this and she should have won. The DVD is remastered beautifully, both picture and sound. Unfortunately, no extras are included. But Stanwyck alone is worth it. Equally fine is Anne Shirley as Laurel, her daughter. John Boles is a milquetoast character who does what he can as Stephen Dallas. No wonder Stella finds him a bore. Enjoy this one folks because they truly don't make them like this anymore! And they never will again!
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on October 24, 2012
Stella Dallas is a gorgeous 1930's black and white film. Vintage fans will savor every moment; the actors' clothing, household design, music and accurate period style are sure to please. But what makes Stella Dallas timeless and enjoyable for just about anybody, are the universal themes of human emotion. Then there are the unfortunate yet ever present differences in social class and the resulting separations these create.

Stella is a very attractive young woman, daughter to honest but very poor parents. Like her mother and father, Stella Dallas is a decent and honest person, but almost caricature like in her representation of a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Sadly, she seems completely unaware of how others perceive her. When Stella meets Stephen Dallas, through her own machinations I might add, Stella is uncharacteristically reserved, almost sophisticated just long enough to catch the attentions of the markedly patrician Stephen Dallas. Though the couple are fundamentally unsuitable for one another, both are vulnerable, Stella desperately longing for a better life, and Stephen lonely and grieving over his father's recent suicide and a broken love affair. They quickly marry and a year later have an adorable and unusually wonderful child. Stephen and Stella are joyous and utterly devoted to their daughter Laurel, but strong personal differences end their relationship with nearly the same speed as it began. It is painful to witness the beautiful new family disintegrate from petty misunderstandings. But there exists a foolish rigidity present in both Stephen and Stella, a complete unwillingness to compromise. Initially, the viewer may be annoyed with Stella as she seems to utterly destroy her marriage with the same determination that she once had to win Stephen Dallas. But Stella is so amiable,
sympathetic, and such a loving mother to Laurel, that the viewer cannot help but care for her.

Time passes and by the time Laurel is a teenager, the Dallas marriage is marked by long years of separation and distance. Stephen has long resumed his relationship with his former fiancee, an elegant and wealthy young widow with three kindly sons. The viewer need only glance for a few moments at Helen and by contrast, Stella. Helen is effortlessly beautiful and elegant, clearly a lady who was borne of the old moneyed aristocratic set. Stella is in every aspect just as she was, a girl born to laborers in the grips of chronic penury. Stella bleaches her hair to a brassy burnt yellow shade, the little remaining of her locks twisted into a most unflattering poodle perm. She adorns herself with a wealth of cheap bangles and baubles, ridiculous fur stoles and huge comical bows perched atop her frizzy hair. Predictably, her appearance sparks cruel jabs and jokes when she visits the country club that Stephen and Helen's friends belong to. Meanwhile, Laurel and her father's lady Helen, are almost immediately bonded to one another and she finds life with her father, Helen and her sons as natural as if she had been among them from the very beginning. Laurel also finds a natural niche with the upper crust types that she meets in her father's social circles, her father's influence in her life notable. However, the one thing Laurel refuses to minimize, hide or compromise, is her steadfast and enduring devotion to the mother who has dedicated her life to her. Over the years a series of painful incidents have schooled Stella that not only does she not fit in Laurel and Stephen's world, it is really too late to even try. Laurel is painfully aware of her mother's inability to find social acceptance, but again she remains faithful and ever loving to the mother who has raised her with such consistent kindness and devotion. After much thought, Stella determines that she herself will be the ultimate liability and impediment to her beloved daughter's happiness and place in life. With the best intentions she makes a life-altering decision, one that seems incredibly extreme, with an uncertain outcome.

Beautiful imagery, wonderful dialogue, and timeless themes make Stella Dallas a must have in any family library. Would also be particularly lovely to view during the holidays.
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on December 5, 2003
It's funny how, in this day and age, golden-age dramas can fall very definitely into one of two categories: ridiculous, and sublime. Happily, Barbara Stanwyck's finest hour, 'Stella Dalls', falls firmly into the second category, thanks to a wonderful performance by Ms. Stanwyck as the titular heroine.
Stella Martin is the daughter of an impoverished steel-mill family. She is ambitious, however, and when she catches the eye of the recently-broke Stephen Dallas, he pushes his feelings for his wealthy ex-girlfriend aside and makes the best of a bad situation. Unhappily married to the uncouth Stella, he spends more and more time away from her, taking only short holidays with his beloved daughter, Laurel. Stella soon realises that a mother's love cannot provide the best social advantages for Laurel, and makes the ultimate sacrifice for the good of her family.
Stanwyck's supporting cast are of a type, but they're still good - John Boles as Stephen and Barbara O' Neil as Helen Morrisson give strong performances. Alan Hale does an excellent job with the character of Ed Munn, a good-time gambler on the road to self-destruction. He plays the role with a sensitivity and pathos rare to films of this era. Anne Shirley as Laurel is cloying and sentimental, but then again, she's supposed to be.
It's Ms. Stanwyck's performance as Stella that saves this movie from mediocrity, and catapults it into the ranks of other big-league melodramas such as 'Now, Voyager' and 'Imitation of Life'. As Stella, she is perfectly capable of forcing us to empathise, and we respond in kind. Surely, hers is the ultimate sacrifice, and we are with her every step of the way. Her eyes, her expressions of total selflessness and her total devotion to the betterment of her daughter give us a true sense of what motherhood is about.
Beautifully directed by King Vidor, it's a triumph that this picture is finally available on DVD. It's not a happy movie, but it is a testament to the once-extraordinary power of Hollywood to create beautiful and emotional pieces of cinema.
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on November 29, 1999
Stella Martin Dallas is a poorly educated, rather coarse (but pretty) young woman with a zest for life. Outwardly crude, she has a heart of gold underneath, and as we watch, we find she's magnificent as a mother! STELLA DALLAS is a classic weeper of the thirties. It offers an especially fine performance from the ever popular Barbara Stanwyck. Stella wins the heart of one Stephen Dallas, a man whose social position is of a much higher level than hers. The scene where Stanwyck visits Barbara O'Neil is heartbreaking (She tells O'Neil what a wonderful girl Laurel is, whereupon O'Neil replies "I know she is - and I know she didn't get it all from her father". The famous birthday party sequence (to which nobody comes)is memorable as is the time Laurel is horrified at seeing her mother with Ed Munn, drinking, reading movie trash and listening to ST. LOUIS BLUES on the phonograph (could Stella be using psychology, perchance?) The classic finale has Stella peering thru a church window at Lollie's wedding - while a cop asks her impatiently to move on - which she does - with a triumphant smile on her face. Stanwyck was sorely disappointed at losing the Oscar (to Luise Rainer for THE GOOD EARTH) because, as she later stated "I really poured my blood into it!". Laurel was played with admirable restraint by Anne Shirley and Alan Hale gave good, solid support as dirty Ed Munn. John Boles was...John Boles (wooden as ever) - but it doesn't matter one whit - this was Stanwyck's picture all the way.
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on December 7, 2015
This is the first film I saw with Barbara Stanwyck. She marries a man but they split leaving her as a single mother. She tries her best to bring up the child, and the daughter does love her. She does what she thinks is best for the child., and I bet you'll have a few tears in the end. This is prob. considered as a womans film. But I am a man and think it one of her best films.
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on December 22, 1999
This movie had me crying for almost a half hour afterwards, I was so moved. The story was so touching and hear-rending that I forgot that was watching a movie. Barbara Stanwyck played her role perfectly. It has to be one of her best performances--she made the movie. After seeing Stella for the first time in a film class, I new I had to own this materpiece. I keep it near and dear to my heart, as this movie has reflected my life to certain point and I could relate to the emotions involved. This is an unforgettable movie, a must see for all--just be prepared with a box of tissues and some Visine!
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on January 30, 2014
One of Barbara Stanwyck's very best movies. Alternately weepy to silliness and truly touching, her performance is fabulous. It doesn't have the obvious humor of some of her other roles--say, Sugarpuss O'Shea--but it's so worth watching.
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on August 31, 2014
One of my fav movies. Barbara Stanwyck does a great job. She has no class, no style, but what she does have is a daughter who is suffering due to her mothers choices. It's a story of a mother's love and sacrifice.
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on November 3, 2015
This was remade with Better Midler in the 80's, but this version remains my favorite. A true tearjerker. Stella is a working class girl who manages to marry a handsome debonair man from the country club set. When they have a daughter, Stella's vulgar behavior and friends pushes her husband away (and into the arms of his graceful former fiancee), and makes things awkward for her quiet, genteel daughter. Wanting a better life for her daughter, Stella makes the ultimate sacrifice that will have you cheering and crying at the same time.
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on February 4, 2014
If you haven't seen this gem of a movie, do so immediately, the story line is priceless and Barbara Stanwyck's performance is incomparable, they don't make em like that any more
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