Elizabeth Moss as Shirley Jackson
I managed to go to the cinema yesterday.
What a treat!
The film, “ Shirley” was a much praised fictional account of a very dark period in the life of 1950 s horror writer Shirley Jackson.
It’s an unsettling film, part gothic horror, part psychological and erotic romp and despite an excellent performance by Elizabeth Moss in the title role, I found myself irritated by it , so I left early .
On reflection I needed a film with a certain lightness of touch , so I came home, looked through the BBC IPlayer and found George Stevens’ classic I Remember Mama
It was an inspired choice.
If you have not seen I Remember Mama ......please do, for its a little gem of a movie
Set in San Francisco in 1910 it is a simple tale of family life , seen through the eyes of a teenage first generation Norwegian immigrant girl ( Barbara Bel Geddes).
The family is ruled by the Mama (Irene Dunne) a gentle but pragmatic matriarch who not only supports her three daughters, son and husband through the difficulties of a frugal life but who remains the moral compass for her three elder and less virtuous sisters, the timid Aunt Trina ( Ellen Corby) , bad tempered Aunt Jenny( Hope Landin) and the bitter Aunt Sigrid ( Edith Evenson) and the thunderous and her overbearing Uncle Chris ( Oscar Homolka)
The family is perfectly described during the normal but significant life vignettes everyday life. Of course they are older and more stereotypical than they could be, but they are the product of a teenage girls’ memory and so the larger than life performances of Landin, Corby and especially Homolka ( In probably his most remembered role) are pitched just right.
The story meanders through illness ( when Mama in an effort to keep her promise to see her youngest daughter after surgery famously pretends to be a hospital cleaner), death, and the formative moments of a girls’ growing up and does so with such affection and warmth, that by the final credits when daughter reads out her published stories as Mama looks out of the kitchen window , there is not a dry eye in the house.
Irene Dunne is a revelation and breaks your heart as Mama
The famous washing the hospital floor scene