Producer Samuel Goldwyn made the film first in 1925 and did mighty well by the results. Stella Dallas is chiefly a tear-jerker of A ranking.
In producing this picture Goldwyn pretty much followed his original, bringing it, however, a bit more up-to-date. Thus the sock scenes are still the same ones. These are, especially, a scene between Barbara Stanwyck and Anne Shirley in a train when the former has just heard playmates of the latter criticize the mother as a millstone around the child’s head; a scene between the girl and her father, and the woman he wants to marry; and a scene between the mother and daughter at a birthday party to which no one has shown up because of one of the mother’s indiscretions.
The story [from the novel by Olive Higgins Prouty] itself is a simple enough one, not so much of mother love as the difficulties of a young girl whose parents are at extremes in the social world. It isn’t overdone.
There are few faults to be pointed. Only one which is obvious is that Stanwyck is permitted to go entirely too far in costuming in her latter scenes. Especially when it is considered that the mother makes all the daughter’s clothes and these are in rare good taste.
1937: Nominations: Best Actress (Barbara Stanwyck), Supp. Actress (Anne Shirley)