George Stevens Movies: 'Alice Adams,' 'I Remember Mama'

Irene Dunne, Barbara Bel Geddes, Philip Dorn, Steve Brown I Remember Mama
Philip Dorn, Barbara Bel Geddes, Steve Brown, Irene Dunne, I Remember Mama

George Stevens' film series on Turner Classic Movies continues tonight with a potpourri of films: the romantic drama Alice Adams (1935), the period comedy Quality Street (1937), the family drama I Remember Mama (1948), the tearjerker Penny Serenade (1941), and the light comedy Bachelor Bait (1934).

By now, Alice Adams is already over. The film is a tad dated, but Katharine Hepburn remains impressive as the small-town girl who wants to belong to both high society and Fred MacMurray. Why she'd pine for MacMurray's character, I don't know, but Hepburn beautifully conveys youthful heartbreak. (Not that older people can't feel the same.)

Hepburn might have won the Best Actress Academy Award that year, were it not for the fact that the Academy felt they owed Bette Davis one.

Hattie McDaniel, for her part, is hilarious as the maid who ruins a most special dinner.

Quality Street (1937) has been panned in some quarters, but I find this comedy of manners thoroughly enjoyable. Hepburn is a delight, and so is an extensive supporting cast that includes Fay Bainter, Eric Blore, and Cora Witherspoon.

Cary Grant, Irene Dunne Penny SerenadeI Remember Mama (1948) offers some good performances – especially Irene Dunne as the Mama of the title – while Penny Serenade (right) earned Cary Grant an undeserved Oscar nod for his overly dramatic performance in an overly dramatic role. Dunne plays his wife, and she suffers just as much. I suffered watching that one, too, but for all the wrong reasons.

Penny Serenade is for those who are into unabashedly sentimental, heavy-duty melodrama.

Schedule and synopses from the TCM website:

5:00pm Alice Adams (1935)
A small-town girl with social ambitions falls in love with a local playboy.
Cast: Katharine Hepburn, Fred MacMurray, Fred Stone, Evelyn Venable Dir: George Stevens BW-100 mins

7:00pm Quality Street (1937)
A woman masquerades as her own niece to get back at a neglectful suitor.
Cast: Katharine Hepburn, Franchot Tone, Eric Blore, Fay Bainter Dir: George Stevens BW-83 mins

8:30pm I Remember Mama (1948)
Norwegian immigrants face the trials of family life in turn-of-the-century San Francisco.
Cast: Irene Dunne, Barbara Bel Geddes, Oscar Homolka, Philip Dorn Dir: George Stevens BW-134 mins

11:00pm [Romance] Penny Serenade (1941)
A woman on the verge of divorce recalls her heartbreaking attempts to adopt a child.
Cast: Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Beulah Bondi, Edgar Buchanan Dir: George Stevens BW-119 mins

1:15am Bachelor Bait (1934)
A romantic starts a marriage agency so he can play Cupid.
Cast: Stuart Erwin, Rochelle Hudson, Pert Kelton, “Skeets” Gallagher Dir: George Stevens BW-75 mins

Photos: RKO Pictures

George Stevens Movies: 'Alice Adams,' 'I Remember Mama' © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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