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  • Stella Dallas

    Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on April 26th, 2005

    Overall
    Film
    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    (out of 5)

    Synopsis

    Miner’s daughter Barbara Stanwyck sets her cap for John Boles, a New England aristocrat who has fled financial disgrace and sought honest work far from home. She lands him, and they marry, but almost immediately their very different backgrounds create tension. When he finds work in New York, she refuses to move with him, and they grow further apart. Meanwhile, their daughter spends most of her time with Stanwyck, but her visits to New York become more and more wonderful, as far as she is con…erned, even moreso when Boles renews his friendship with his former fiancée. Stanwyck is so determined to give her daughter the good life, that she is willing to sacrifice everything to that end.

    This is the ultimate mother-as-martyr movie, but it complicates issues by having the title character be rather unappealing for the first part of the movie. As she becomes more sympathetic, her outfits become more outrageous, and Stanwyck does fine work, maintaining Stella’s essential dignity even as her appearance becomes more and more grotesque. Anne Shirley, as her daughter, is the film’s weak point: she is such a simpering twit that her mother, rather than devoting her life to her, should have strangled her at birth.

    Audio

    The mono track hasn’t been remixed, which is a good thing (this doesn’t sound like a track that would be well served by stereo). What we have is clean, and has little static or distortion, especially for a film dating from 1937.

    Video

    This is an important film, and it is a shame that no restoration appears to have been attempted. The grain is very noticeable, and is sometimes very bad indeed. The print is in decent shape, but the result is hardly spectacular.

    Special Features

    None, which is a real crime.

    Closing Thoughts

    This is a key melodrama. Why isn’t there a commentary track? Why are there no extras AT ALL?

    Posted In: 1.33:1 Fullscreen, Disc Reviews, Dolby Digital Mono (English), Dolby Digital Mono (Spanish), Drama, DVD, MGM

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