Monday, 24 January 2011

But Most Of All, I Remember Mama

I watched I Remember Mama (1948) yesterday for the second time and it was just as wonderful as I remembered it, and it seemed the perfect topic for today's review. I also just finished "Home" by Julie Andrews and really liked it. I love Julie Andrews in films such as:
  • The Sound Of Music
  • Thoroughly Modern Millie (One of my all-time favourite movie-musicals!)
  • Star! (Contrary to comments previously)
  • Mary Poppins
  • The Princess Diaries, 1 and 2 (Cheesy but I love them!)
It was a very well written autobiography, nice and informative as well as really showing what a sweet person she was. I may post a review at a later date. Before you read my review, if you are feeling like a rebel today, you can watch the whole film on youtube in little parts.  Here is the first part, but it has links to the others there too. I have embedded part one in the plot section of the review, and you could watch the whole thing from there if you wanted! Sorry, this plot summary is quite long.

I Remember mama
Cast: (Directed by George Stevens)

Katrin Hanson is writing a book about her childhood memories about her life in 1910 as part of a family of Norwegians in San Francisco, and she tells us how she remembers everything very vividly, but most of all, she "remembers Mama."


It is now 1910 and the Hanson family are gathering for their weekly budget count. Marta (Mama) puts a pile of large silver coins on one side for the landlord, then some for the grocer and so on. At the end Papa looks up at her and says, "Mama, is all?" To which she replies "Is good! We do not have to go to the bank."

This was a regular routine for the Hanson family. If there was not enough money they would go to the little 'bank' in a tin in the other room and select the needed amount. If there was any in there. The Hanson family were happeir than most. They are contented with what they have and if Mama is ever asked if she moved to America to get rich she simply replies "I came here because all of the family had already moved here. Family is where Mama fits best. Right in the heart of things." One day, Aunt Trina comes to tell Marta that she wants to get married, but doesn't have the guts to tell the other aunts or Uncle Chris. Marta ends up telling the aunts, but leaves telling Uncle Chris to Trina's fiance.
Uncle Chris decides to come for a visit from his farm in the north, much to everyone's surprise. On that very day, the youngest of the four children Dagmar, who calls her tom cat Uncle Elizabeth, gets a bad ear problem and has to go to the hospital to have an operation. Uncle Chris's presence doesn't help matters any, and neither does the fact that Mama is not allowed to see Dagmar after the operation. Devastated that she can't see Dagmar, Mama sneaks into the hospital dressed as a cleaner to get into Dagmar's room.
When Dagmar comes home fully recovered, they realize that Uncle Elizabeth is very ill. Despite everyone's belief that Mama can fix anything, Mama feels helpless and she and Papa send the eldest brother Niels to the drugstore to get something to put him to sleep. They are all astounded the next morning when Dagmar walks in with a sleepy but perfectly well Uncle Elizabeth in her arms.
Their lodger Mr. Hyde who always used to read them beautiful books, mysteriously leaves leaving them a large check. They are overjoyed at the financial miracle, but they soon find out that the check is worthless.
Katrin is boasting about getting a large dresser set for her graduation present, but she learns that she is to be given her mothers precious old family heirloom broach, and reacts in a very ungrateful and spoilt way. Mama wears the broach every day, but has traded it with the shop owner for the dresser set. Katrin is acting so smug that just before she goes to her school play (in which she is playing Portia in The Merchant of Venice) her sister Christina tells her that Mama traded her broach for the dresser set. Ashamed of her selfish behavior, and mortified by what she has made her mother do, she acts badly in the play and afterwards runs straight to the shop to get the broach back.

I won't tell you any more, for fear of spoiling the end for you :)
I remember the first time I watched this I was so moved by the way the family operated and made the most out of everything. I sat on my mum's lap and cried for ages completing the scene with a dramatic, "I will never be wasteful again Mum!!!" I think it's great when a film can make you feel that strongly about something. Funnily enough, this and Random Harvest are the films I cry the most at. It is unbelievably hard to choose a best performance, but Irene Dunne is amazing in her role and I just love her adorable Norwegian accent. But I also adore Oskar Homolka as Uncle Chris as well, he is pure genius. The direction is very unique - it really works well with the old fashioned structure of the film. One of my favourites, yet again!

I had the strangest dream the other day. It was all so weird. There was Greer Garson, and then for some reason completely unknown to me, Joan Crawford was her mother. (?) I was either Greer's daughter or watching the whole thing like god (so cool). Anyway. Greer Garson, Joan Crawford and me were all in this big hall and Greer and Joan were having a huge argument, and then, out of nowhere, the floor separated and the whole room turned into a giant swimming pool like in It's A Wonderful Life.
Then I woke up. I was so bemused by the experience I nearly walked into my bedroom wall. I have dreams involving classic movie stars before, but this was by far the craziest.



Sarah said...

What a lovely blog! Very impressed with what you've seen - just incase they're not on your list (though you seem very well read so they probably are!) The Nanny and Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte are two fabulously dark Bette films I'd recommend :-)

Meredith said...

I saw I Remember Mama for the first time in October and really liked it. Funny, I just finished reading "Home" by Julie Andrews last night and really liked it, too. I love her in Mary Poppins, but I actually really like The Princess Diaries. I agree that they're a bit cheesy, but they're some of the few modern films I enjoy!

Great post!

Scott Lampley said...

When it comes children, I aspire to be as much like Uncle Chris as possible. His fictional character is my hero. Very powerful and moving film. I have seen it many times and have shared this movie with others many times.

Post a Comment

Thanks for taking the time to comment. It makes me happy to see people are interested in my posts!