Saturday, 5 December 2020

I Remember, “I Remember Mama”

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)

Oscar Homolka as Uncle Chris


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


48 comments:

  1. It is a lovely movie. I've watched it many times. A good antidote for the one you left early.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes,it has a humour and a gentleness about it, however stevens has crafted a sometimes complicated movie with hidden gems in it.
      I refer to a sequence when the elder boy Hans is smoking a pipe. Unnoticed by the women of the house, father and son smoke until the boy is sick all beautifully choreographed and in the background of the female characters

      Delete
  2. I love, love this movie. I watch it every time it comes on my old movie channel. You made a good choice. I read your blog every day. I have been reading it for years. Love to see what you are up to. I am in Michigan, USA. Have a good day. Bobbie DeWitt

    ReplyDelete
  3. Have you seen ‘A tree grows in Brooklyn’?..
    I watch it every year .. and shed both sad and happy tears every time x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, that is more more adult and bittersweet movie about the coming of age.
      Another delightful film

      Delete
  4. You know, I don't think I've ever seen this movie. We should rent it! The Shirley Jackson one sounds interesting too -- I think it's based on a recent biography of her. She was a weird duck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The film , what I saw of it didnt paint her too well
      Mama..pleasectry and watch it's on iplayer now

      Delete
  5. This aired here recently on one of the vintage movie channels, I remember watching it with my mother years ago. It is a soothing and stylized view of life of the time. Loved it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Times are dark and unsettling enough, without watching films of more; 'I remember Mama' sounds like perfect escapism!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes the perfect addition to a dark wet afternoon

      Delete
  7. Sounds like my sort of film, have written it down and will look out for it. Ellen Corby, iirc, was Grandma Walton :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you are in the uk, you will find it in the movies section of BBC iplayer

      Delete
  8. Sometimes the old movies are the best!

    ReplyDelete
  9. We remember the movie and the tv series !!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn’t know there was a tv series
      I knew Oscar Homolka reprised his role from the stage play

      Delete
    2. Bob googled the tv series... would you believe it ran from 1949 to 1957???

      Delete
    3. I loved the weekly TV series when I was in middle school (Jr. High) and we finally had a TV.

      Delete
  10. Sometimes it has to be the right kind of film to touch the spot doesn't it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Joan (Devon)7:34 pm

    I think I did see I Remember Mama many, many years ago. If so, to me it was memorable because the teenage girl got her long hair cut to buy her mother a tortoiseshell comb for her hair, or was that another film?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes that was another ...wasn’t it little women

      Delete
    2. It seems like it was in Little Women.

      Delete
  12. It sounds so silly. When we watch these old movies, we are often distracted by the house interiors. So lovely. Sometimes we get so side tracked by these things, that we have to go back and watch the movie again to pick up on the plot line.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did this on Mrs miniver when the German airman was in her kitchen.....I adored that kitchen

      Delete
  13. Oh, and if you're looking for another sweet and comic one, "Cheaper by the Dozen" is fun.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Barbara Anne8:31 pm

    I've also occasionally walked out on a movie and am sorry "Shirley" was all it was said to be. Now "Shirley Valentine" on the other hand ...!
    I also love "I Remember Mama" but haven't seen it in ages. "Cheaper By the Dozen" with Clifton Webb (have your hanky to hand), "The Philadelphia Story" with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, and "It Happened One Night" with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert are three more oldies but goodies.

    Hugs!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Not trusting my own role model I based my style on Mamma. She hasn't let me down. The book is lovely too and gives more detail than in the film.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I’ve just ordered it on your recommendation

      Delete
    2. But it is the play and not a novel

      Delete
  16. I don't remember this one John but I love watching the talking pictures on freeview late at night.Also Taste of Honey is a favourite of mine which I never bore of and Saturday night Sunday morning x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always found those rather bleak

      Delete
    2. Yes they were John but I find them familiar as I knew people and places like that as a child x

      Delete
  17. It's interesting that film is seen as escapist these days, because I'm not sure that was director George Stevens intent. Before World War II, Stevens directed mostly comedies and the occasional musical. Then the war comes along, and he joins the U.S. Signal Corps, becoming the head of its film unit. Among the events he filmed was the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp, footage later used as evidence at the Nuremburg Trials. The experience had a profound effect on Stevens, who came back to Hollywood vowing never again to direct a 100% comedy. Life was too serious. I Remember Mama was one of the serious pictures he made (though not as serious as The Diary of Anne Frank, which he also directed.)

    Without giving too much away, I remember a dying character in I Remember Mama telling the teenage girl, "I think maybe you should leave the room now." Stevens probably thought he was being starkly realistic when he filmed that scene, but seen today, it may come across as somewhat sentimental (though I'd like to think I'm capable of such consideration on my death bed.)

    Incidentally, a rejection of comedy isn't necessarily a universal reaction to the horrors of war. Billy Wilder found out he lost his entire family in the Holocaust, and he went on to direct Some Like It Hot!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well observed Kirk
      It’s a clever film that LOOKS simple
      It has a great deal to say on the goodness simple people can possess and of the importance of having a hero in your life

      The death scene was beautifully handled and it was the dying patient that asked the girl to leave
      Mama asked her to go back in when she’s on the porch saying
      “ I do not want you to fear death”

      Thank you for the discussion x

      Delete
  18. spouse has seen "mama", I have not. we just finished watching the 1951 B&W "a christmas carol" with alastair sim.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Love that movie. 2020 has given you and me a short fuse.
    Patty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I’ve always had the ability to walk out of a movie I didn’t like

      Delete
  20. I'm just distracted by the fact I'm Elizabeth Moss. We must all have people of the same name out there but I do find it discombulating

    ReplyDelete
  21. I saw "I remember Mama" in the theater, then every time it was on television. I will look it up again.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have always loved that movie. I remember watching it with my mother when I was a child and I have watched it many times since.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I have watched I remember Mama many times and each time there is a different part of the movie that reaches out to me. The story line with the sick cat, ends up making me laugh. And Mama's sisters when they realized how they had misjudged the Uncle (Homolka) about how he had been living and spending his money for so many years. Mama's sisters were bitter old she cats when it came to their judging of the Uncle's (their brother's) wife.

    I am the same way as you are when it comes to admiring Mrs. Miniver's kitchen, to where I almost don't care what the Nazi is doing.

    There are so many old classic 1930's and 1940's movies where I go back and rewatch the movie just to pay attention to the clothes they were wearing and the home decor, especially if it is a bit cottage-y.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Me and my cat did three weeks of I Remember Mama in my first year in Summerstock. I have fond memories of that show. As for Shirley... I did a paper on her for my Women's study class re: her husband kidnapping her work after her death... she was in a captive relationship. Very sad. I hope the film captured that. Otherwise, I will be disappointed. Thanks for the memory.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes it captured their very unequal relationship very well , but it’s not an easy watch as no one seems to be very likeable

      Delete
  25. Seeing that picture of the mother with her children reminded me of the film at once, but I can't remember anything about the story. I must try to find it.

    ReplyDelete
  26. This was my and my late mum's favourite film when I was a child. Thanks for reminding me of it. I shall now track down a copy and watch again.

    ReplyDelete
  27. This beautiful movie is one of my all-time favorites. I love that you enjoy it too.

    ReplyDelete
  28. HERBAL DR EMU WHO PREPARE HERBAL MEDICINE TO CURE ALL KINDS OF DISEASES INCLUDING HERPES DISEASE.   
     I have been battling this Herpes disease for almost 3 years now....I tried all possible means to get cure from my Herpes Disease but all to be in vain until i saw a post in a health forum about a herbal Dr Emu who prepare herbal medicine to cure all kind of diseases including Herpes Disease, at first i doubted if it was real but decided to give it a try...when i contact Dr Emu via his email (emutemple@gmail.com)  write him and reply me explain how the process work so after ordering for the medicine I got it within 3/4 working days through DHL Delivery and I took it according to the way Dr Emu instructed, I was so happy after 2 week I took the medicine there was very big change in my health when I was done with the process I go for test, I found out I am negative...Herpes patients should also get in touch with this herbalist Dr Emu to get rid of these Herpes Virus forever his whatsapp number +2347012841542.

    ReplyDelete

I love all comments Except abusive ones from arseholes