Perfect Films for Every Occasion, Holiday, Mood, Ordeal and Whim
Selections from the book

Mother's Day Films

There are many movies about evil mothers, possessive mothers, conniving mothers, pesky mothers, unreformed Old World mothers at odds with modernity, yadda yadda yadda, but why would you want to watch those? We tried to appeal to the purpose of the holiday, without being too naive about real mother-child relationships, which are seldom easy or simple.

Selections from Flickipedia. For more movie recommendations in this category, please consult the book.

I Remember Mama poster

Mrs. Miniver (1942) The peerlessly lovely Greer Garson is unjustly notorious as merely the prototype of genteel, stiff-upper-lip British resolve in wartime. That’s may be why she won an Oscar for this homefront melodrama, but today her character is a revelation – a wife and mother of three radiating lusty playfulness, real-woman warmth and pre-feminist strength. Luminous, almond-eyed and honey-voiced, Garson never sounded the acting trumpets like Katherine Hepburn or Bette Davis did; she just was, and here she’s the ultimate Mom, confident and unruffled by chaos and yet still stirringly sexy and sweet. William Wyler’s movie is, otherwise, laced with propaganda and hokum, but between Garson’s maternal light and Teresa Wright (another Oscar) as her grown daughter, the movie veritably glows.

I Remember Mama (1948) The story of a dead-poor Norwegian immigrant clan living in San Francisco circa 1910, whose matriarch is wise, firm, funny, loving and, of course, self-sacrificing. The family could just as well have been Scottish or Asian or shtetl-Jewish – mothers want more for their children the world over and why should they have a new coat when the children need books? Irene Dunne, in her last significant role, flashes that ironic smile as she bustles about with her brood, but she’s fully committed to the woman’s limitations and the feeling of family intimacy. There’s no defense from tearjerking once she sneaks into a hospital children’s ward pretending to be a nurse, just so she can to croon to her sick daughter, and, helplessly, the other sickbed kids as well.

The Joy Luck Club (1993) Amy Tan’s multi-generational saga about Chinese mothers, Chinese daughters, and Chinese-American daughters gets a compressed-shorthand Hollywood treatment, but the actresses are all dynamite, and the dramatic circumstances of their travails – feudal-era oppression, betrayal, infanticide, abuse, you name it – is a tell-your-Mom-you-love-her emotional bludgeon in any package.

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