Stella Dallas

A pretty millworker with her mind on upward mobility via a suet-faced, sexless millionaire's son (Boles), Stella (Stanwyck, wonderful) turns from radiant grisette into a restless wife who sublimates frustration into maternal martyrdom and ever more outrageous dress. Meanwhile husband Stephen flees to a wealthy and conveniently widowed old flame who epitomises pedigree breeding and impeccable (but mean-spirited) good taste. The film stays tantalisingly undecided whether Stella's vulgarity and wild narcissism are a fatal flaw or a snook knowingly cocked at country-club dullness and decorum; and Stanwyck's extraordinary performance keeps open the cleft between weepy pathos and mocking defiance to the very end when, alone outside in the rain, she spies on her daughter's high society wedding through a window, then turns from the puppet-show, striding, smiling enigmatically, towards the camera.

Release details

Duration: 105 mins

Cast and crew

Director: King Vidor
Screenwriter: Victor Heerman, Sarah Y Mason
Cast: Barbara Stanwyck
John Boles
Anne Shirley
Alan Hale
Barbara O'Neil
Tim Holt
Marjorie Main
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