The Bank of Mama
"I Remember Mama" was made back in 1948 but this is a movie whose modern appeal is to those who grew up on the wholesome and homely tales in "The Waltons". Here we have a nostalgic tale of a Norwegian family living in San Francisco in 1910 and the focus is on Mama, a mother who in this day and age almost seems alien as she lived for her family, making sure they didn't go without and being the wise head in a crisis. It is for me beautiful, a heart warming tale of family love with a wonderful layer of humour and performances which are just perfect.
"I Remember Mama" is the sort of movie which doesn't really have a storyline but more of a series of episodes in the Hanson household where Martha is better known as Mama. Now those series of events include budgeting the money which father Lars brings in to how to deal with a sick cat. And there are a lot more of these episodes all of which combine not to tell a story but to build the character of Mama, a mother who lives for her family and they love her for doing so.
Now that makes it very sentimental, very nostalgic and to those not use to innocent cinema might find it corny but to those like me who were brought up on the likes of "The Waltons" steeped in traditional family values it is like a warm hug. And at the centre of that warm hug is Irene Dunne as Mama, a woman who exudes warmth but also respect and it doesn't take long to fall in love with her. When she is working out what they can afford and constantly sacrifices the money she has put by for a warm coat you get a real sense of family first but you also get the wisdom when her sisters come to her looking for advice and she uses what she knows to help them out. But you also see the pain of motherhood many times but none more so when her youngest goes to hospital and Mama having been told she can't see her daughter for 24 hours after the op can't stop worrying and fretting over having promised to be there. It is basically real, touching and beautiful.
"I Remember Mama" is not all about Mama as there is this wonderful stream of humour which creeps through out the movie be it from the mean Aunts to the boisterous Uncle Chris who visits from up North. It means that when you are not being treated to some wholesome family morals you are getting big laughs, from the cat scene where they have no idea on how to put it down to anything with Uncle Chris none more so his dying scene which keeps you hanging brilliantly.
Now I have already mentioned Irene Dunne which if rumours are to be believed didn't wear a scrap of make-up for the role, which ironically highlighted Dunne's natural beauty even more. But there are plenty of other good performances from Ellen Corby as the timid Aunt Trina to Oskar Homolka boisterous performance as Uncle Chris. But the other star of the movie is Barbara Bel Geddes as Katrin, are narrator who in real life was in her 20s does a goes job of playing much younger. There is a real simple beauty to Geddes's performance getting across the elements of a young girl growing up but one who loves her mother and family and respects them.
What this all boils down to is that "I Remember Mama" is a real treasure especially for those like me who enjoy wholesome entertainment. It is seriously sentimental and heavily nostalgic but I tell you what if there were more women like Mama the world would be a better place.