Saturday, May 10, 2008

Marvelous Movie Mothers

So, it's just about Mother's Day here on the west coast, so I may as well ask the question: Which silver screen moms do you think are the best representations of motherhood?

I think my two instinctual favorites, off the top of my head--and they are admittedly quite obvious, eponymous classics--would be Barbara Stanwyck in Stella Dallas and Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce.

Ironically, Crawford became quite associated with Mommie Dearest, the hit-piece by adopted daughter Christina Crawford (sorry, but the whole project was so hateful and more laugh-inducing than anything else).

Other films with wondrous motherly portrayals off the top of my head--Old Maid, starring Bette Davis (which, along with Stella Dallas, features one of the most understandably tearjerking denouements ever), E.T., with Dee Wallace trying to keep her family together and, perhaps, Autumn Sonata, Ingmar Bergman's treatise on a poisoned mother-daughter relationship starring Bergman-regular (and, at the time, former lover) Liv Ullman as the daughter and Ingrid Bergman as the mother. There are, of course, many, many others and if you wish to bring them up, please do so, and if you have comments about the ones I've mentioned, I'd love to hear 'em. Happy Mother's Day.


cjKennedy said...

Angelica Huston in The Grifters. Just kidding.

Angelica Huston in The Royal Tenenbaums. Seriously.

Alexander Coleman said...

Aha, Craig, I like that. In fact, that would make for a very interesting double bill.

lightbird777 said...

How about Demi Moore in Striptease, because all model mothers behave that way? ;)

Or, I know, Mrs. Bates in Psycho?

Just kidding. But the sad thing is that it's easier to come up with bad mother portrayals than good mother portrayals. Hell, right now on A&E they've got Carrie on. That's as bad a mother as you can get.

Sally Field in Norma Rae, trying to organize a union and run a household at the same time. Maureen O'Hara in Miracle on 34th Street, who wants the best for her daughter but needs good ol' John Payne (and Santa Claus) to steer her right. And, though the movie was a ridiculous piece of fluff, I'd like to also offer Diane Keaton in Baby Boom, who unwittingly becomes a mother and learns the joy of it, bonding with the baby that she inherits. Maybe Mia Farrow in Alice and Hannah and her Sisters.

Alexander Coleman said...

Ah, I figured somebody would bring up Mrs. Bates at some point.

Alison, that's kind of awful for A&E, to show Carrie... Certainly a mother not to be emulated.

I've still never seen Striptease but a few minutes here and there on TBS.

Norma Rae is a good choice. And speaking of Woody Allen, the way he develops and carries through with the mother character in Interiors is quite fascinating.

Alexander Coleman said...

Just looking at my DVD collection, I can't believe I didn't mention Almodovar. So many beautiful mothers in his films. All About My Mother and Volver alone deserve particular mentioning, just for starters.

lightbird777 said...

Hey, how about Kate Winslet and Julie Christie in Finding Neverland? I didn't care for the movie, but each of them was a good Mom in their own way. :)