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A black and white Mother’s Day: classic movies about moms

Here's seven films from the 1930s and 1940s that showcase various mothers and their supreme efforts to help their loved ones.
Elizabeth Reid, Deseret News Modified: May 7, 2014 at 10:23 am •  Published: May 9, 2014

Mother’s Day is a time to honor the women we love and admire. So if you plan to encourage the special woman in your life to relax and watch a movie or two, here are several delightful films from the 1930s and 1940s to consider.

While a few of these flicks have sad endings that focus on how good intentions can turn out for the worst, the others end happily by highlighting the patience and sacrifices of wonderful mothers.

These movies are listed in order of the year they were released. If you only have time for one, try the second to last movie listed.

‘Little Women’

The first talkie rendition based on the classic novel, “Little Women” stars Katharine Hepburn. But Spring Byington, who plays her mother, is a wonderful actress who is often overlooked. Marmee is a patient, gentle mother of four very different daughters. When her girls enter the world of adulthood, she sits gently back, ever ready to cheer their successes and comfort their pains. Her daughters always know their mother loves them and can be counted on. This delightful 1933 movie is family-friendly and can be seen May 12 at 4 p.m. MDT on the cable channel Turner Classic Movies. It can also be viewed via Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, iTunes or Netflix DVD.

‘Stella Dallas’

This heartbreaking movie shows the depths a poor, unrefined woman will go to help her daughter. Stella Dallas is a beautiful yet crude woman whose only desire is to move up the social ladder. However, when she becomes a mother, she changes her focus to her beloved daughter. When Stella and her husband separate and their daughter is sought after by a well-to-do young man, Stella decides to make the ultimate sacrifice to help her daughter achieve happiness. Made in 1937, this movie is not for those who need a story to end happily. It stars Barbara Stanwyck and Ann Shirley. "Stella Dallas" can be seen May 10 at 6 p.m. MDT on TCM. It can also be found on Amazon Instant Video or Netflix DVD.

‘The Good Earth’

The life of a Chinese woman was not easy during the early 20th century. She was expected to be hard-working and docile towards her husband, all while giving him many sons. In “The Good Earth,” O-Lan is a slave belonging to a wealthy family. When she gets married to Wang Lung, her lot in life gets steadily worse until, at one point, she and her children are begging in the streets. However, during a riot, O-Lan finds herself the possessor of something that will soon change her family’s fortune. O-Lan is the all-enduring, all-suffering wife and mother who loves her husband and will do anything he asks, even when it breaks her heart. Based off Pearl Buck’s monumental novel, this 1937 movie helped Luise Rainer win the Best Actress award. This movie can be seen on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes or Netflix DVD.

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