I Remember Mama

Happy Mother’s Day, all you moms out there. Here’s a film that honors one mother, and in honoring her, honors all of you.

Classic for a Reason

I Remember Mama, 1948, RKO Radio Pictures. Starring Irene Dunne, Barbara Bel Geddes, Oskar Homolka, Ellen Corby, Philip Dorn. Directed by George Stevens. B&W, 134 minutes.

With quiet dignity, wry humor and deep devotion, Marta Hanson (Irene Dunne), a Norwegian immigrant, is raising her family in early 20th century San Francisco. Her story is told in flashback vignettes by her oldest daughter, Katrin (Barbara Bel Geddes), who has just finished writing an autobiographical novel based on her family.

Mama manages not only her home, but the bickering and rivalry among her sisters and uncle Chris (Oskar Homolka). Chris scares everyone, it seems, with his boisterous manner and demanding presence. Yet he’s clearly wounded to learn he’s frightening his youngest family members—Marta’s children—and seeks camaraderie with them, which he creates by leaning in and whispering a shared secret: none of them like Marta’s sisters.

Mama puts her family first, and…

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