Review: ‘I Remember Mama’

With "I Remember Mama," RKO is spreading a layer of warm and deeply moving nostalgia. Based on the John van Druten legiter, [and the novel, Mama's Bank Account, by Kathryn Forbes] the film encompasses those same broad, human values which lifted the play into the smash hit class.

With “I Remember Mama,” RKO is spreading a layer of warm and deeply moving nostalgia. Based on the John van Druten legiter, [and the novel, Mama’s Bank Account, by Kathryn Forbes] the film encompasses those same broad, human values which lifted the play into the smash hit class.

DeWitt Bodeen’s screenplay is a faithful adaptation of the original, adding only an extra dimension of background depth and story detail. In extending the scope, however, it doesn’t blunt the impact of the yarn. This reminiscence of growth in a San Francisco Norwegian family is related in a simple and genuine manner. It’s frequently sentimental but never hokey.

Irene Dunne is the central pillar of this production. In holding down the most demanding role of her career, she earns new honors as an actress of outstanding versatility. Her Norwegian dialect sounds queer for the first couple of minutes but soon establishes itself solidly as a natural part of her lingo.

The rest of the cast also do yeoman’s service in draping this pic with a flesh-and-blood reality. Oscar Homolka, repeating his stage role of the uncle, contributes a massive and memorable performance. As the youngster who matures into an authoress, Barbara Bel Geddes plays a 15-year-old schoolgirl in a tour de force. Her portrait of adolescence is sensitive, compelling and authentic.

1948: Nominations — Best Actress (Irene Dunne), Supp. Actor (Oscar Homolka), Supp. Actress (Barbara Bel Geddes), B&W Cinematography.

I Remember Mama

Production

RKO. Director George Stevens; Producer Harriet Parsons; Screenplay DeWitt Bodeen; Camera Nicholas Musuraca; Editor Robert Swink; Music Roy Webb; Art Director Albert S. D'Agostino, Carroll Clark

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1948. Running time: 137 MIN.

With

Irene Dunne Barbara Bel Geddes Oscar Homolka Philip Dorn Cedric Hardwicke Edgar Bergen
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