In honor of Mother’s Day 2011, I decided to put together a list. Granted, my list has no particular order and while my goal was to I tried to cap it at a nice, even interval (5 or 10) I landed on 6 classic films that feature moms in various shades of gray.
Imitation of Life (1959): I could not have a mother’s day film list without including this one. It personally resonates with me because it is one of the few classic films that my mother would always reference. In fact she is the one that introduced me to this Douglas Sirk/Lana Turner weepie melodrama. I know there is a 1934 version out there, which I have yet to see, but for me, this one is IT. Granted, you have to get past some of the “less than PC” references as they relate to racial identity and race relations. But overall it really is an enjoyable, guilty-pleasure watch, especially if you are into Sirkian soap operatics.
I Remember Mama (1948): I think I have only seen this film once, love this film for several reasons – it is based in turn of the century San Francisco, is directed by the great George Stevens and features Irene Dunne and Miss Ellie from Dallas (Barbara Bel Geddes). It is a touching screen adaptation about the nostalgia of looking back reminiscing about a time long ago and far away.
To Each His Own (1946): This is a film about a mother who lost, found, lost (again) and finally found at last the son she longed for.
Psycho (1960): Switching gears (a bit), in Psycho, we have a film about what happens when a son has severe “mommy issues.” The results are unsurprisingly not good.
Gypsy (1962): The life of burlesque legend Gypsy Rose Lee brought to life on the screen by Rosalind Russell and Natalie Wood. A must-see for all aspiring stage moms.
Mildred Pierce (1945): I really enjoyed the Winlset-led HBO adaptation but this 1940’s version starring Joan Crawford and Ann Blyth are stylized in a way that only came out of films during this period of time. The Crawford version is very crisp and stylized and just wonderful and camp in its own way. I love the story of a mother blinded by an obsessive devotion to an unappreciative, vindictive and dare I say – evil child.
READERS: Do you have any recommendations?