Stella Dallas (1937)

104 mins | Drama | 6 August 1937

Director:

King Vidor

Cinematographer:

Rudolph Maté

Editor:

Sherman Todd

Production Designer:

Richard Day

Production Company:

Howard Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

According to a Dec 1936 HR news item, Mary Astor was originally cast as Helen Dallas and was to be borrowed from Columbia for the role. HR production charts and news items include Lillian West, Mildred Gover and Al Shean in the cast, but their appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. Barbara Stanwyck received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for the film, the first nomination of her career, but, the award was won by Luise Rainer for The Good Earth . Stella Dallas was the first film of actress Laraine Day (1920--2007), who acted under the name Laraine Johnson until 1939 when she went under contract to M-G-M and appeared in the film Sergeant Madden (see above).
       Olive Higgins Prouty's story was previously filmed by Samuel Goldwyn in 1925 under Henry King's direction, starring Ronald Colman and Belle Bennett (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; F2.5384). Modern sources note that director King Vidor followed the earlier version in many places, but cut parts of the story that dealt with character Stephen Dallas' early life. The novel also provided the source for the 1990 Touchstone film Stella , directed by John Erman, and starring Bette Midler and Stephen Collins. Stella Dallas began as a radio serial on 25 Oct 1937 and lasted for more than eight years. The radio serial followed the later lives of Stella, her daughter Laurel and other characters from the novel. Modern sources include Lon McCallister, Ann Doran, Harry Bowen, Dorothy Vaughan, Edythe Elliott, Paul Stanton, Francis Sayles and Frank Filban in the ... More Less

According to a Dec 1936 HR news item, Mary Astor was originally cast as Helen Dallas and was to be borrowed from Columbia for the role. HR production charts and news items include Lillian West, Mildred Gover and Al Shean in the cast, but their appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. Barbara Stanwyck received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for the film, the first nomination of her career, but, the award was won by Luise Rainer for The Good Earth . Stella Dallas was the first film of actress Laraine Day (1920--2007), who acted under the name Laraine Johnson until 1939 when she went under contract to M-G-M and appeared in the film Sergeant Madden (see above).
       Olive Higgins Prouty's story was previously filmed by Samuel Goldwyn in 1925 under Henry King's direction, starring Ronald Colman and Belle Bennett (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; F2.5384). Modern sources note that director King Vidor followed the earlier version in many places, but cut parts of the story that dealt with character Stephen Dallas' early life. The novel also provided the source for the 1990 Touchstone film Stella , directed by John Erman, and starring Bette Midler and Stephen Collins. Stella Dallas began as a radio serial on 25 Oct 1937 and lasted for more than eight years. The radio serial followed the later lives of Stella, her daughter Laurel and other characters from the novel. Modern sources include Lon McCallister, Ann Doran, Harry Bowen, Dorothy Vaughan, Edythe Elliott, Paul Stanton, Francis Sayles and Frank Filban in the cast. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
24 Jul 37
p. 3.
Film Daily
27 Jul 37
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Apr 37
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
24 May 37
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Dec 36
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Mar 37
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jul 37
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
24 Jul 37
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
26 Jun 37
p. 83.
Motion Picture Herald
31 Jul 37
p. 36.
New York Times
6 Aug 37
p. 21.
Variety
28 Jul 37
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Dramatization by
Dramatization by
Addl dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Stella Dallas by Olive Higgins Prouty (Boston, 1923).
DETAILS
Release Date:
6 August 1937
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 5 August 1937
Production Date:
early April--late May 1937
Copyright Claimant:
Samuel Goldwyn
Copyright Date:
24 August 1937
Copyright Number:
LP7358
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
104
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
PCA No:
3558
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Young Stella Martin, the daughter of a Millwood factory worker, is secretly attracted to Stephen Dallas, a minor executive at the factory whose family was once wealthy. Stephen has broken his engagement to Helen, his long-time sweetheart, because he fears that his present lack of money and social position would not be good for her. Stella schemes to have a chance encounter with Stephen, and when the opportunity presents itself one afternoon when her brother Charlie goes to work at the factory without his lunch, Stephen is attracted to her. Soon they begin to see each other in the evenings, and Stephen asks her to marry him, even though she warns him that the differences in their backgrounds might be a problem. After their baby daughter Laurel is born, Stella becomes bored with her life as the wife of a staid, rising businessman and begins to exhibit social characteristics which Stephen finds unsuitable. After Stella insists on dancing with the kind, but loutish Ed Munn at the exclusive River Club, Stephen tells Stella that he will have to be spending more time on business in New York. Stephen's visits home become less and less frequent, and they eventually separate. Though Stephen does not think that Stella can provide the right atmosphere for Laurel, he allows Stella to keep the girl, knowing how much she loves her. Many years later, while Stephen is selecting a gift for Laurel in a New York department store, he encounters his former fiancée. Now Mrs. Morrison, a widow with three sons, Helen is delighted to see Stephen again, and the two rekindle their former love. Soon, when Laurel comes to visit her father, ... +


Young Stella Martin, the daughter of a Millwood factory worker, is secretly attracted to Stephen Dallas, a minor executive at the factory whose family was once wealthy. Stephen has broken his engagement to Helen, his long-time sweetheart, because he fears that his present lack of money and social position would not be good for her. Stella schemes to have a chance encounter with Stephen, and when the opportunity presents itself one afternoon when her brother Charlie goes to work at the factory without his lunch, Stephen is attracted to her. Soon they begin to see each other in the evenings, and Stephen asks her to marry him, even though she warns him that the differences in their backgrounds might be a problem. After their baby daughter Laurel is born, Stella becomes bored with her life as the wife of a staid, rising businessman and begins to exhibit social characteristics which Stephen finds unsuitable. After Stella insists on dancing with the kind, but loutish Ed Munn at the exclusive River Club, Stephen tells Stella that he will have to be spending more time on business in New York. Stephen's visits home become less and less frequent, and they eventually separate. Though Stephen does not think that Stella can provide the right atmosphere for Laurel, he allows Stella to keep the girl, knowing how much she loves her. Many years later, while Stephen is selecting a gift for Laurel in a New York department store, he encounters his former fiancée. Now Mrs. Morrison, a widow with three sons, Helen is delighted to see Stephen again, and the two rekindle their former love. Soon, when Laurel comes to visit her father, she stays with the Morrisons whose opulent life and family atmosphere are far different than her lower class life with her mother. Stephen wants to marry Helen and informs Stella through his lawyer, but she refuses to give him a divorce and asks for more money. She fears that Stephen and Helen are trying to take Laurel away from her and wants the extra money to give Laurel all of the things that she has with the Morrisons. At a posh resort to which she takes Laurel, a minor illness keeps Stella bedridden while the sweet and beautiful Laurel enjoys the company of rich young people. Laurel is grateful to her mother for the trip to the resort, but when Stella unexpectedly gets out of bed and dresses in her gaudy new clothes, Laurel is too embarrassed to let her new friends know that the woman they find so ridiculous is her mother. On the train home, Laurel and Stella each overhear some girls talking about their discovery that the gaudy woman at the resort is really Laurel's mother. Stella pretends to be asleep when Laurel looks in on her, but decides that she must give Laurel to Stephen and Helen if she is to have the kind of life she deserves. Though Stella makes Laurel think that she wants the divorce to go to South America with Ed Munn, Helen has been secretly visited by Stella and knows the painful sacrifice that Stella has made for her daughter. Some years later, the news of Laurel's forthcoming marriage to the wealthy Richard Grosvenor, III, reaches the newspapers, revealing that the wedding will be at the Dallas home in New York. As preparations are being made, Helen insists that the curtains in the living room remain open. Laurel cannot believe that her mother has not contacted her, but Helen tells her that Stella would never miss attending her daughter's wedding if she could. As the ceremony takes place, Stella is in the front of the crowd looking in the window. A policeman tells the crowd to move along, but Stella stays until after Dick kisses Laurel. Now confident of her daughter's happiness, Stella smiles and walks away. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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