Stella Dallas (1937)

  • Directed by King Vidor.
  • So far, I really like this Stephen Dallas (John Boles) character. I hope this doesn’t turn out to be another MR. SKEFFINGTON (1944). (Edit: It does.)
  • Stella’s father kicks her out of the house after she stays out late ONE night? That seems a little drastic.
  • Doesn’t matter, though – her being kicked out – because THANKS, MARRIAGE!
  • I already feel sad for Stephen, and Stella’s only pester-whined him into one River Club Dance so far.
  • Oh, she’s horrid. She just played the ‘I lost my handkerchief but actually I intentionally hid it’ trick so she could go make connections with Mr. Munn (Alan Hale) & Co. (I wonder how many times I will end up thinking “Poor Stephen” over the course of this movie.)
  • I love the softness of Stephen’s voice. Boles delivers all of these lines with such gentleness, and it’s wonderful.
  • When Stephen’s staring admiringly at the kids playing in the toy store, while sending books to Laurel? So cute. Poor Stephen.
  • And of course, when Stella pre-screens the present from Stephen: “Oh – books, again,” she says with disappointment. “Hide ’em with all the rest.” POOR STEPHEN.
  • Barbara Stanwyck is – as ever – so great. She has the body language of her character down perfectly. The way she talks with her hands and moves in frenetic movements does a lot to establish her character’s personality.
  • Ew! Uncle Ed (Munn) just walks in while 13-year-old Laurel (Anne Shirley) is changing clothes? And Stella doesn’t have a problem with it? And then goddamn Uncle Ed chases Laurel around while she’s only wearing underwear, while Laurel genuinely tells him “no”? So gross! I would very much like Stephen to come rescue her now.
  • Sarsaparilla. Huh. That’s all Stella & Laurel ever drink.
  • Wtf? A well-past-grown man touches every person in a train car with itch powder, just for the hell of it? Wtf?
  • “Oh, I don’t know, I – I guess Lollie just uses up all the feelings I got, and I don’t seem to have any left for anybody else.” — Stella

Yeah, that’s healthy.

  • Stella certainly knows how to set up for a party, decorations-wise…I’ll give her that!
  • Noooo! This is so sad! No one came to Lollie’s party because of her mother’s disgraceful personality! Poor Lollie.
  • I like how the boys & Helen don’t accompany Stephen & Laurel to and from the train station – they let them have that time together, just the two of them. Helen (Barbara O’Neil) is a keeper, y’all.
  • Stephen, dear – this is not a good idea, inviting Stella to Christmas with the lovely Morrisons.

(Phew. That was a close one. Thanks, Uncle Ed. It’s a stellar move on Stella’s part to let Lollie go on holiday with Stephen, though…that’s for sure.)

  • As much as I dislike her character, Barbara Stanwyck standing at the train station waving goodbye to Lollie is pretty damn heartbreaking.
  • How is Uncle Ed still alive? Jesus Christ.
  • I am alternatively very happy for Laurel & Stephen and very sad for Stella & the impact of her lies. Very emotionally confusing.
  • Wow. Great movie.
  • Ps: I just discovered via IMDb that there was a 1925 version of STELLA DALLAS – in which Ronald Coleman (“Ronald Coleman?!” — Emily Lloyd, A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT (1992)) played Stephen. Intriguing!
  • Do you know who else was nominated for the Lead Actress Oscar for 1937? Here, I’ll tell you:

Irene Dunne, for THE AWFUL TRUTH

Greta Garbo, for CAMILLE

Janet Gaynor, for A STAR IS BORN


Luise Rainer (who won) for THE GOOD EARTH.

What the fuck.

That’s crazy, y’all.


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