Stella Martin is the daughter of a factory worker in Massachusetts who not only dreams of bettering herself, she pursues that goal single-mindedly. She snags factory manager Stephen Dallas, son of a bankrupt millionaire. But after their daughter Laurel is born, cracks appear in the marriage. Stella thinks Stephen is boring, and Stephen finds Stella’s lower-class ways vulgar. When he is transferred to New York and Stella stays behind, Laurel becomes the only bond between them. When her father decides to marry his former childhood sweetheart, a rich heiress, Laurel appears to choose life with her father. And Stella Dallas is fiercely maternal; she will do whatever it takes to make sure Laurel has a better life … The popular novel provided the basis for a 1925 film by Henry King, and Vidor uses a clip from it in his film. Over the years, feminist film theory has had nothing but praise for this version. In addition to garnering Oscar nominations for its two female leads, Vidor succeeded in drawing a complex portrait of a dominant woman who was equal parts self-sacrifice and triumph. German filmmaker Helma Sanders-Brahms said in 1979 that “it goes even further than Douglas Sirk”.
by King Vidor
with Barbara Stanwyck, John Boles, Anne Shirley, Barbara O’Neil, Alan Hale, Marjorie Main, Tim Holt, George Walcott, Ann Shoemaker, Nella Walker
USA 1937 English 105’ Black/White


  • Barbara Stanwyck
  • John Boles
  • Anne Shirley
  • Barbara O’Neil
  • Alan Hale
  • Marjorie Main
  • Tim Holt
  • George Walcott
  • Ann Shoemaker
  • Nella Walker


Director King Vidor
Screenplay Sarah Y. Mason, Victor Heerman, Harry Wagstaff Gribble, Gertrude Purcell, Joe Bigelow
Story Olive Higgins Prouty Stella Dallas (1923)
Cinematography Rudolph Maté
Editing Sherman Todd
Music Alfred Newman
Art Director Richard Day
Costumes Omar Kiam
Assistant Director Walter Mayo
Sound Frank Maher
Producer Samuel Goldwyn

Produced by

Howard Productions, Inc.

Additional information

Print: Park Circus, Glasgow

King Vidor

Filmography (selection)

1919 The Turn in the Road; Lost film 1925 The Big Parade (Die große Parade) 1928 The Crowd (Ein Mensch der Masse) 1929 Hallelujah 1934 Our Daily Bread (Der letzte Alarm) 1938 The Citadel 1940 Northwest Passage (Nordwest-Passage) 1947 Duel in the Sun (Duell in der Sonne) 1949 The Fountainhead (Ein Mann wie Sprengstoff) 1956 War and Peace (Krieg und Frieden) 1959 Solomon and Sheba (Salomon und die Königin von Saba)

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2020