Story [by Francois Campaux] is nothing more than a series of episodes strung together by the central character of a First World War war-widow who devotes her life to children after losing her only child. Footage opens with the child’s death, a moving sequence, and carries Jane Wyman through a succession of jobs as a baby nurse until, old and wornout physically, she is given the lifetime job of caring for the offspring of one of her former charges.
Charles Laughton, as a portly, kindly corset manufacturer, is Wyman’s first costar, in the initial episode.
Romance makes a bid for Wyman in her new job in the home of wealthy Agnes Moorehead, but she is unable to leave her charge to go off to foreign lands with Richard Carlson, a tutor who courts her.
Next is the episode in which she cares for Natalie Wood, daughter of fading musical actress Joan Blondell. This sequence is considerably enlivened by the pert vivacity of Blondell and her singing of two old tunes.
Wyman experiences real heartbreak at the end of eight years of caring for the abandoned son of Audrey Totter when the latter returns from England after the Second World War, with a stepfather, and claims the boy.
Curtis Bernhardt’s direction handles the drama surely, if at times a bit measured, and never strives for dramatic tricks beyond the level of the simple, warm story being told.
1951: Nominations: Best Actress (Jane Wyman, Supp. Actress (Joan Blondell)