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Stella Dallas

Live Musical Accompaniment
Screening on Film
Directed by Henry King.
With Ronald Colman, Belle Bennett, Alice Joyce, Douglas Fairbanks Jr..
US, 1925, 35mm, black & white, 110 min.
Print source: Museum of Modern Art

Adapted by legendary screenwriter Frances Marion (whose many successful screenplays of the 20s and 30s showcase her ability to write strong female characters), Henry King’s Stella Dallas is the original film version of Olive Higgins Prouty’s 1923 bestseller.  The story follows Stella (Bennett), a small town girl who marries into a society that rejects her flamboyant character and taste for vulgar things, leading to her downfall.  But it is Stella’s love for her daughter Laurel (Moran)—so selfless that Stella will do anything to provide her child with the opportunities she never had, and the place in society she could not attain—and Laurel’s unconditional devotion and loyalty to her mother, that make give this tearjerker its heart.  A master Hollywood craftsman, King’s attention to “the minute behaviorisms that epitomize 'the motions of the spirit'” (Richard Griffith) provide the sentimental story with its soul.

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