I Remember Mama Reviews
A sentimental and loving look at motherhood without being overly melodramatic. George Stevens strikes just the right tone.
Irene Dunne plays the mother of a family if Dutch immigrants who settle in 1910 San Francisco. The oldest daughter (Barbara Bel Geddes) fondly reminisces about various situations where her mother came through in difficult problems.
Dunne is wonderful in the lead, but the entire cast comes through.
That basically sums up the whole movie.
Very nostalgic, and a slice of Norwegian immigrant family values and lives, not perfect in the rendering of the Norwegian accents, but not distracting either, if it hadn't been so long I'd rate it higher, color would have been nice too.
Overall a nostalgic 40's movie about a 1910 immigrant family. Captures the strong family values and simple life of those days, with good overall cinematography.
It is a heart-warming movie, and if you get a chance watch it.
For maverick filmmaker George Stevens has conveyed her seemingly inconsequential story in all its warm and pleasant character to the screen. Framed by a progression of musings of a youthful author's gushing thoughts, Stevens has composed a pleasing and charming Home Sweet Home cloth of hilarious and moving chapters in the lives of an extraordinarily pleasant family of Norwegian-Americans. And its lovable cast of Hollywood performers catches the unspoiled radiance of character.
As it surely proves significant material further than the flicker of any cynic's reservations, this story craves no more than thoughtful treatment to reach the merit of triumph that only someone as insightful as Stevens would recognize. And he has comforted this with unflagging sway of the directorial pedals. His understated scenes are by no means ever excessively slushy, not even the scene where Mama sings her lullaby. Moreover, in the many fleeting outings of the family beyond their home, and above all in the frenzied shots of their gasping of their jalopy up and down their residential hill, he has swelled such traces as associate these people to an external world which, by the insular temperament of the story, is no more than abstractedly understood to be.
As Mama, the president, if you will, of the family, the unconditionally beautiful Irene Dunne gives a wonderfully touching, lovable and funny performance, in a wig and in dresses which truly seem to be aged. Controlling with level flair a tongue-in-cheek Norwegian accent and a worried look, Dunne has the fire and energy, and still the gentleness, that the role wants. As the oldest daughter, the one who frames the story, Barbara Bel Geddes plays most regularly as in a stupor, entranced by Mama and pure splendor, and that corresponds with the common atmosphere. As well, Philip Dorn as Papa and Peggy McIntyre and June Hedin as Bel Geddes's siblings have the flavor of angels, for all their delightful manner.
Oskar Homolka, who plays the overbearing Uncle Chris, one of the most laugh-out-loud characters I have ever seen in a movie, gives to it all the broad blunder and goofiness that Stevens has the undiluted sense of humor to augment with overwhelming close-ups and things of the sort. Edgar Bergen's Mr. Torkelson is also a side-splitting pleasure and so is Sir Cedric Hardwicke.
The film begins with eldest daughter Bel Geddes finishing her autobiographical novel. As she harks back to her family life, we flashback to 1910, where the first of a series of vignettes finds Dunne arranging the weekly budget with the help of her light, practical husband, her son and her daughters. Her son reveals his wish to attend high school. Each family member puts forward to make an economic sacrifice to throw in to the boy's education. How peaceful. Really. It may seem like nothing happens in the lives of this family, but it is a purely emotional experience. It does not aim for us to pity the immigrant experience but to embrace the hopeful aspirations the immigrant experience. I want to make love to this movie and everyone in it, especially Mama.