I Remember Mama


2h 14m 1948
I Remember Mama

Brief Synopsis

Norwegian immigrants face the trials of family life in turn-of-the-century San Francisco.

Photos & Videos

I Remember Mama - Publicity Stills
I Remember Mama - Barbara Bel Geddes Publicity Stills
I Remember Mama - Movie Poster

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Mar 17, 1948
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 11 Mar 1948
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Agoura--Agoura Ranch, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play I Remember Mama , adapted by John van Druten (New York, 19 Oct 1944), which was based on the novel Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Anderson McLean (New York, 1943).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 14m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
12,081ft

Synopsis

Upon completing the last lines of her autobiographical novel, youthful Katrin Hanson reminisces about her family life: In 1910, in a modest San Francisco house, Katrin's Norwegian-born mother, Marta Hanson, computes the weekly budget with help from her husband Lars, daughters Katrin, Christine and Dagmar and son Nels. When the adolescent Nels declares his desire to attend high school, Marta is pleased, but realizes their "little bank" lacks sufficient funds to pay for his education. After each family member offers to make a monetary sacrifice so that Nels may continue his schooling, Trina, Marta's spinster sister, drops by to speak privately with Marta. To Marta's surprise, Trina announces that she is marrying Peter Thorkelson, a homely undertaker, and begs Marta to break the news to their sisters, Sigrid and Jenny, who Trina fears will laugh at her. As predicted, the bossy Jenny and whiny Sigrid laugh upon hearing of the engagement, but when Marta threatens to reveal embarrassing anecdotes about them to Trina, the sisters agree to keep quiet. Later that evening, Jonathan Hyde, the Hansons' erudite, penniless lodger, reads to them from Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities , and the entire family, especially fledgling writer Katrin, is deeply moved by the story. Soon after, the family is visited by Marta's overbearing but big-hearted uncle, Chris Halvorsen, who drives into the city with his common law wife, Jessie Brown. When the lame Chris, whose loud, gruff ways strike fear in the Hanson children, learns that Dagmar, the youngest daughter, is severely ill with mastoiditis, he insists on driving her to the hospital. Because they disapprove of Jessie, Sigrid and Jenny attempt to stop Chris, but he bullies his way past them with Dagmar and Marta in tow. Then the meek Trina and Peter reveal their engagement to Chris, the family's head, and are relieved to receive his blessing.

Although Dagmar's operation is a success, Marta is forbidden to see her by the hospital staff. At home, Marta, who promised Dagmar she would visit immediately after the operation, becomes increasingly agitated about the separation and begins scrubbing the floor nervously. Marta's scrubbing inspires a plan: Impersonating a floor-scrubbing maid at the hospital, Marta sneaks into Dagmar's ward and sings a Norwegian lullaby to help her frightened daughter fall asleep. Sometime later, when a recovered Dagmar returns home, she learns that her cat, Uncle Elizabeth, is very ill. Despite Dagmar's belief in her mother's curative powers, Marta feels helpless to save the wounded cat and sends Nels to buy some chloroform with which to kill it. The other children, meanwhile, see Mr. Hyde leaving the house with his suitcases, and Marta discovers that he has left them a check for his overdue rent, as well as his book collection. The family's joy at receiving Mr. Hyde's check is soon undone when Sigrid and Jenny inform them that their lodger has no bank account. Although Sigrid and Jenny are indignant over Mr. Hyde's deception, wise Marta declares that his gift of literature is payment enough. Marta then applies the chloroform to Uncle Elizabeth, but is astounded when, the next morning, an unsuspecting Dagmar marches off with a sleepy but very alive cat.

Later, as Katrin nears her school graduation date, she brags to Christine that Marta is going to buy her a much-coveted dresser set as a present. Although the younger, envious Christine tells her that Marta is planning to give her their grandmother's brooch, Katrin does receive the dresser set. As Katrin is about to leave to perform "Portia" in her school's production of The Merchant of Venice , however, Christine informs her that Marta sold her beloved brooch in order to buy the dresser set. Crushed by this revelation, Katrin performs badly in the play, and later presents her mother with her brooch, which she exchanged for the dresser set. Touched by Katrin's gesture, Marta gives her the brooch and scolds Christine for telling. Then, to mark her entrance into adulthood, Katrin's father serves her coffee for the first time. Sometime later, Marta is notified that Uncle Chris is near death, and she takes Katrin to say goodbye to him at his ranch. The alcoholic but still feisty Uncle Chris reveals to Marta that he has no money to leave her, and confesses that he and Jessie have been married for years but have been silent about it because of his nieces' snubbing. After enjoying a last drink with Jessie and Marta, Uncle Chris dies. Marta then tells her sisters the truth about Jessie and that Uncle Chris had long been donating money to help poor lame children. Having "seen" death, Katrin returns to San Francisco with Marta and is devastated when she receives her first literary rejection letter. Determined to bolster Katrin's confidence, Marta takes some of her stories to renowned author Florence Dana Moorhead, who loves to eat, and convinces her to read one by offering to share a family meatball recipe with her. Marta returns home to find Katrin destroying her writings and happily tells her that, while Moorhead agreed that her stories were lacking, she also felt that Katrin was a born author. Taking Moorhead's advice to write about "what she knows," Katrin submits a new story for publication and is overjoyed when she is paid $500 for her efforts. After announcing that some of the money is going to buy the winter coat that Marta has always longed for, Katrin confesses that her mother is the subject of her story and begins to read it aloud. The introduction of her story concludes with the line, "But first and foremost, I remember Mama."

Photo Collections

I Remember Mama - Publicity Stills
Here are a few Publicity Stills from the RKO film I Remember Mama (1948). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
I Remember Mama - Barbara Bel Geddes Publicity Stills
Here are a number of Publicity Stills from the RKO film I Remember Mama (1948), featuring Barbara Bel Geddes, in character as Katrin Hanson.
I Remember Mama - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for I Remember Mama (1948), starring Irene Dunne. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

I Remember Mama (1948) - First And Foremost A grown-up Katrin (Barbara Bel Geddes, assuming the voice of Katnryn Forbes, from her semi-autobiographical novel) reading her own prose, flashes back to San Francisco ca. 1910 and memories of her mother, Marta (Irene Dunne), opening George Stevens' I Remember Mama, 1948.
I Remember Mama (1948) - Everyone But Me! Cranky Norweigan Uncle Kris (Oscar Homolka) intrudes with San Francisco Dr. Johnson (Rudy Vallee), who's determined that young Dagmar needs an operation, then gets told off by Marta (Irene Dunne, title character) in George Stevens' I Remember Mama, 1948, based on Kathryn Forbes' novel.
I Remember Mama (1948) - All By Herself! Unmarried Norweigan immigrant Aunt Trina (Ellen Corby) drops by unaccompanied, to the surprise of her sister Marta (Irene Dunne, title character) and family, in early 20th century San Francisco, in George Stevens' I Remember Mama, 1948.
I Remember Mama (1948) - The Tales From Two Cities A theme from the original novel by Kathryn Forbes, Barbara Bel Geddes in the narrator’s voice, recalling impecunious boarder Hyde (Sir Cedric Hardwicke) reading to her Norwegian immigrant family, headed by Irene Dunne, the title character, in George Stevens’ I Remember Mama, 1948.
I Remember Mama (1948) - You Will Not Laugh At Her! Norwegian immigrant Irene Dunne (title character) her husband (Philip Dorn) in support, threatens elder sisters (Edith Evanson, Hope Landin), with retaliation if they are unkind to fourth sister Trina (Ellen Corby), who has confided marriage plans, in George Steven’s I Remember Mama, 1948.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Mar 17, 1948
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 11 Mar 1948
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Agoura--Agoura Ranch, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play I Remember Mama , adapted by John van Druten (New York, 19 Oct 1944), which was based on the novel Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Anderson McLean (New York, 1943).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 14m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
12,081ft

Award Nominations

Best Actress

1948
Irene Dunne

Best Cinematography

1948

Best Supporting Actor

1948
Oscar Homolka

Best Supporting Actress

1948
Barbara Bel Geddes

Best Supporting Actress

1948
Ellen Corby

Articles

I Remember Mama - I Remember Mama


Based on a play by John Van Druten, which was in turn based on the stories from Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes, I Remember Mama (1948) is the story of the ups and downs of a Norwegian immigrant family in San Francisco, held together by the stoic yet tender matriarch. The film was beautifully crafted by director George Stevens and Irene Dunne played the title role. Although long in production and expensive to make, the end result is a film that even today retains its potent sentiment without being overpowering. It was nominated for five Oscars, and spawned a successful television series, Mama, which ran on CBS from 1949-57. The film also inspired a musical stage show of the same name, which premiered on Broadway in 1979.

George Stevens, who was famous for his attention to detail, poured the same meticulousness into I Remember Mama. Every second of the 134-minute running time was devoted to creating the mood; as critic Penelope Houston pointed out: ". . . [by] taking the film at a slow, reflective pace, he constantly emphasized its reminiscent quality, so that it seemed less like something actual and more like something affectionately remembered." Such was the genius of Stevens; he was responsible for such films as Gunga Din (1939), Woman of the Year (1942), and Shane (1953). He won Oscars for A Place in the Sun (1951) and Giant (1956). In 1945 Stevens, along with three of his contemporaries, Samuel Briskin, Frank Capra, and William Wyler, started their own production company, Liberty Films. I Remember Mama began production under the Liberty umbrella, with distribution rights going to RKO. Only a couple of years after its inception, however, Liberty Films fell on hard times and was bought out by Paramount in 1947, which took over 25 percent of the grosses for I Remember Mama. Liberty Films' sole producing credit was Capra's It's a Wonderful Life (1946).

So effective was her performance, it's difficult to imagine the role of Mama being played by anyone other than Dunne. The part was initially offered, however, to Greta Garbo, who turned it down. Dunne had some conditions of her own before accepting the role; she had a selection of only five directors that she would work with, but fortunately Stevens was one of them. They had worked together previously in Penny Serenade (1941). Dunne was lauded for her performance as Mama, particularly for the consummate Norwegian accent. Although 50 at the time of filming, Dunne had retained her youthful appearance; the make-up artists for I Remember Mama reportedly had to age her for filming. Mama was Dunne's favorite role; in an interview years later she recalls, "I thought she was a wonderful woman. It was probably the only time I played a real character part. It will always be very special to me." Dunne was nominated for Best Actress for I Remember Mama, her fifth and last nomination. Although she never won an Oscar, she was honored by the Kennedy Center for her film contributions in 1985.

The supporting cast of I Remember Mama was outstanding as well, with three Oscar nods among them. Barbara Bel Geddes played daughter Katrin and also functioned as the story's narrator. Bel Geddes was best known as Miss Ellie, the matriarch on the television series Dallas, but she also starred as the original Maggie the Cat in the Broadway production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (a role performed by Elizabeth Taylor on film). Ellen Corby, another nominee, was best remembered as Grandma from the long-running television show The Waltons. Other supporting players included the famous crooner Rudy Vallee, acclaimed character actor Sir Cedic Hardwicke, and the ventriloquist Edgar Bergen (minus his dummy, Charlie McCarthy).

Despite emerging from the Oscar ceremony with no awards, and weathering the collapse of its original production house, I Remember Mama remains one of the most emotionally moving representations of American immigrant life today. So poignant was its effect that even the often-acidic columnist Hedda Hopper declared, "As long as we turn out pictures like I Remember Mama we don't have to worry about the future of Hollywood."

Producer: Harriet Parsons
Director: George Stevens
Screenplay: De Witt Bodeen, based on the book, Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes and the play by John Van Druten
Art Direction: Carroll Clark, Albert S. D'Agostino
Cinematography: Nicholas Musuraca
Costume Design: Gile Steele, Edward Stevenson
Film Editing: Tholen Gladden, Robert Swink
Original Music: Constantin Bakaleinikoff
Principal Cast: Irene Dunne (Mama), Barbara Bel Geddes (Katrin), Oskar Homolka (Chris), Philip Dorn (Papa), Cedric Hardwicke (Mr. Hyde), Edgar Bergen (Peter Thorkelsen), Rudy Vallee (Dr. Johnson), Barbara O'Neil (Jessie Brown), Florence Bates (Florence Dana Moorhead), Ellen Corby (Aunt Trina).
BW-135m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.

by Eleanor Quin
I Remember Mama  - I Remember Mama

I Remember Mama - I Remember Mama

Based on a play by John Van Druten, which was in turn based on the stories from Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes, I Remember Mama (1948) is the story of the ups and downs of a Norwegian immigrant family in San Francisco, held together by the stoic yet tender matriarch. The film was beautifully crafted by director George Stevens and Irene Dunne played the title role. Although long in production and expensive to make, the end result is a film that even today retains its potent sentiment without being overpowering. It was nominated for five Oscars, and spawned a successful television series, Mama, which ran on CBS from 1949-57. The film also inspired a musical stage show of the same name, which premiered on Broadway in 1979. George Stevens, who was famous for his attention to detail, poured the same meticulousness into I Remember Mama. Every second of the 134-minute running time was devoted to creating the mood; as critic Penelope Houston pointed out: ". . . [by] taking the film at a slow, reflective pace, he constantly emphasized its reminiscent quality, so that it seemed less like something actual and more like something affectionately remembered." Such was the genius of Stevens; he was responsible for such films as Gunga Din (1939), Woman of the Year (1942), and Shane (1953). He won Oscars for A Place in the Sun (1951) and Giant (1956). In 1945 Stevens, along with three of his contemporaries, Samuel Briskin, Frank Capra, and William Wyler, started their own production company, Liberty Films. I Remember Mama began production under the Liberty umbrella, with distribution rights going to RKO. Only a couple of years after its inception, however, Liberty Films fell on hard times and was bought out by Paramount in 1947, which took over 25 percent of the grosses for I Remember Mama. Liberty Films' sole producing credit was Capra's It's a Wonderful Life (1946). So effective was her performance, it's difficult to imagine the role of Mama being played by anyone other than Dunne. The part was initially offered, however, to Greta Garbo, who turned it down. Dunne had some conditions of her own before accepting the role; she had a selection of only five directors that she would work with, but fortunately Stevens was one of them. They had worked together previously in Penny Serenade (1941). Dunne was lauded for her performance as Mama, particularly for the consummate Norwegian accent. Although 50 at the time of filming, Dunne had retained her youthful appearance; the make-up artists for I Remember Mama reportedly had to age her for filming. Mama was Dunne's favorite role; in an interview years later she recalls, "I thought she was a wonderful woman. It was probably the only time I played a real character part. It will always be very special to me." Dunne was nominated for Best Actress for I Remember Mama, her fifth and last nomination. Although she never won an Oscar, she was honored by the Kennedy Center for her film contributions in 1985. The supporting cast of I Remember Mama was outstanding as well, with three Oscar nods among them. Barbara Bel Geddes played daughter Katrin and also functioned as the story's narrator. Bel Geddes was best known as Miss Ellie, the matriarch on the television series Dallas, but she also starred as the original Maggie the Cat in the Broadway production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (a role performed by Elizabeth Taylor on film). Ellen Corby, another nominee, was best remembered as Grandma from the long-running television show The Waltons. Other supporting players included the famous crooner Rudy Vallee, acclaimed character actor Sir Cedic Hardwicke, and the ventriloquist Edgar Bergen (minus his dummy, Charlie McCarthy). Despite emerging from the Oscar ceremony with no awards, and weathering the collapse of its original production house, I Remember Mama remains one of the most emotionally moving representations of American immigrant life today. So poignant was its effect that even the often-acidic columnist Hedda Hopper declared, "As long as we turn out pictures like I Remember Mama we don't have to worry about the future of Hollywood." Producer: Harriet Parsons Director: George Stevens Screenplay: De Witt Bodeen, based on the book, Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes and the play by John Van Druten Art Direction: Carroll Clark, Albert S. D'Agostino Cinematography: Nicholas Musuraca Costume Design: Gile Steele, Edward StevensonFilm Editing: Tholen Gladden, Robert Swink Original Music: Constantin Bakaleinikoff Principal Cast: Irene Dunne (Mama), Barbara Bel Geddes (Katrin), Oskar Homolka (Chris), Philip Dorn (Papa), Cedric Hardwicke (Mr. Hyde), Edgar Bergen (Peter Thorkelsen), Rudy Vallee (Dr. Johnson), Barbara O'Neil (Jessie Brown), Florence Bates (Florence Dana Moorhead), Ellen Corby (Aunt Trina). BW-135m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video. by Eleanor Quin

I Remember Mama on DVD


Based on a play by John Van Druten, which was in turn based on the stories from Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes, I Remember Mama (1948) is the story of the ups and downs of a Norwegian immigrant family in San Francisco, held together by the stoic yet tender matriarch. The film was beautifully crafted by director George Stevens and Irene Dunne played the title role. Although long in production and expensive to make, the end result is a film that even today retains its potent sentiment without being overpowering. It was nominated for five Oscars®, and spawned a successful television series, Mama, which ran on CBS from 1949-57. The film - now available on DVD from Warner Video - also inspired a musical stage show of the same name, which premiered on Broadway in 1979.

George Stevens, who was famous for his attention to detail, poured the same meticulousness into I Remember Mama. Every second of the 134-minute running time was devoted to creating the mood; as critic Penelope Houston pointed out: ". . . [by] taking the film at a slow, reflective pace, he constantly emphasized its reminiscent quality, so that it seemed less like something actual and more like something affectionately remembered." Such was the genius of Stevens; he was responsible for such films as Gunga Din (1939), Woman of the Year (1942), and Shane (1953). He won Oscars for A Place in the Sun (1951) and Giant (1956). In 1945 Stevens, along with three of his contemporaries, Samuel Briskin, Frank Capra, and William Wyler, started their own production company, Liberty Films. I Remember Mama began production under the Liberty umbrella, with distribution rights going to RKO. Only a couple of years after its inception, however, Liberty Films fell on hard times and was bought out by Paramount in 1947, which took over 25 percent of the grosses for I Remember Mama. Liberty Films' sole producing credit was Capra's It's a Wonderful Life (1946).

So effective was her performance, it's difficult to imagine the role of Mama being played by anyone other than Dunne. The part was initially offered, however, to Greta Garbo, who turned it down. Dunne had some conditions of her own before accepting the role; she had a selection of only five directors that she would work with, but fortunately Stevens was one of them. They had worked together previously in Penny Serenade (1941). Dunne was lauded for her performance as Mama, particularly for the consummate Norwegian accent. Although 50 at the time of filming, Dunne had retained her youthful appearance; the make-up artists for I Remember Mama reportedly had to age her for filming. Mama was Dunne's favorite role; in an interview years later she recalls, "I thought she was a wonderful woman. It was probably the only time I played a real character part. It will always be very special to me." Dunne was nominated for Best Actress for I Remember Mama, her fifth and last nomination. Although she never won an Oscar, she was honored by the Kennedy Center for her film contributions in 1985.

The supporting cast of I Remember Mama was outstanding as well, with three Oscar® nods among them. Barbara Bel Geddes played daughter Katrin and also functioned as the story's narrator. Bel Geddes was best known as Miss Ellie, the matriarch on the television series Dallas, but she also starred as the original Maggie the Cat in the Broadway production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (a role performed by Elizabeth Taylor on film). Ellen Corby, another nominee, was best remembered as Grandma from the long-running television show The Waltons. Other supporting players included the famous crooner Rudy Vallee, acclaimed character actor Sir Cedic Hardwicke, and the ventriloquist Edgar Bergen (minus his dummy, Charlie McCarthy).

Despite emerging from the Oscar® ceremony with no awards, and weathering the collapse of its original production house, I Remember Mama remains one of the most emotionally moving representations of American immigrant life today. So poignant was its effect that even the often-acidic columnist Hedda Hopper declared, "As long as we turn out pictures like I Remember Mama we don't have to worry about the future of Hollywood."

When you consider how the RKO library has been in a state of neglect for years, the DVD transfer of I Remember Mama looks pretty swell, despite some expected nicks and scratches; the audio is also exceptionally clear. Unfortunately, there are no standout extra features other than a bland introduction by the director's son, George Stevens, Jr.

For more information about I Remember Mama, visit Warner Video. To order I Remember Mama, go to TCM Shopping.

by Eleanor Quin

I Remember Mama on DVD

Based on a play by John Van Druten, which was in turn based on the stories from Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes, I Remember Mama (1948) is the story of the ups and downs of a Norwegian immigrant family in San Francisco, held together by the stoic yet tender matriarch. The film was beautifully crafted by director George Stevens and Irene Dunne played the title role. Although long in production and expensive to make, the end result is a film that even today retains its potent sentiment without being overpowering. It was nominated for five Oscars®, and spawned a successful television series, Mama, which ran on CBS from 1949-57. The film - now available on DVD from Warner Video - also inspired a musical stage show of the same name, which premiered on Broadway in 1979. George Stevens, who was famous for his attention to detail, poured the same meticulousness into I Remember Mama. Every second of the 134-minute running time was devoted to creating the mood; as critic Penelope Houston pointed out: ". . . [by] taking the film at a slow, reflective pace, he constantly emphasized its reminiscent quality, so that it seemed less like something actual and more like something affectionately remembered." Such was the genius of Stevens; he was responsible for such films as Gunga Din (1939), Woman of the Year (1942), and Shane (1953). He won Oscars for A Place in the Sun (1951) and Giant (1956). In 1945 Stevens, along with three of his contemporaries, Samuel Briskin, Frank Capra, and William Wyler, started their own production company, Liberty Films. I Remember Mama began production under the Liberty umbrella, with distribution rights going to RKO. Only a couple of years after its inception, however, Liberty Films fell on hard times and was bought out by Paramount in 1947, which took over 25 percent of the grosses for I Remember Mama. Liberty Films' sole producing credit was Capra's It's a Wonderful Life (1946). So effective was her performance, it's difficult to imagine the role of Mama being played by anyone other than Dunne. The part was initially offered, however, to Greta Garbo, who turned it down. Dunne had some conditions of her own before accepting the role; she had a selection of only five directors that she would work with, but fortunately Stevens was one of them. They had worked together previously in Penny Serenade (1941). Dunne was lauded for her performance as Mama, particularly for the consummate Norwegian accent. Although 50 at the time of filming, Dunne had retained her youthful appearance; the make-up artists for I Remember Mama reportedly had to age her for filming. Mama was Dunne's favorite role; in an interview years later she recalls, "I thought she was a wonderful woman. It was probably the only time I played a real character part. It will always be very special to me." Dunne was nominated for Best Actress for I Remember Mama, her fifth and last nomination. Although she never won an Oscar, she was honored by the Kennedy Center for her film contributions in 1985. The supporting cast of I Remember Mama was outstanding as well, with three Oscar® nods among them. Barbara Bel Geddes played daughter Katrin and also functioned as the story's narrator. Bel Geddes was best known as Miss Ellie, the matriarch on the television series Dallas, but she also starred as the original Maggie the Cat in the Broadway production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (a role performed by Elizabeth Taylor on film). Ellen Corby, another nominee, was best remembered as Grandma from the long-running television show The Waltons. Other supporting players included the famous crooner Rudy Vallee, acclaimed character actor Sir Cedic Hardwicke, and the ventriloquist Edgar Bergen (minus his dummy, Charlie McCarthy). Despite emerging from the Oscar® ceremony with no awards, and weathering the collapse of its original production house, I Remember Mama remains one of the most emotionally moving representations of American immigrant life today. So poignant was its effect that even the often-acidic columnist Hedda Hopper declared, "As long as we turn out pictures like I Remember Mama we don't have to worry about the future of Hollywood." When you consider how the RKO library has been in a state of neglect for years, the DVD transfer of I Remember Mama looks pretty swell, despite some expected nicks and scratches; the audio is also exceptionally clear. Unfortunately, there are no standout extra features other than a bland introduction by the director's son, George Stevens, Jr. For more information about I Remember Mama, visit Warner Video. To order I Remember Mama, go to TCM Shopping. by Eleanor Quin

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Contemporary news items add the following information about the production: Katherine Anderson McLean, whose pseudonym was Kathryn Forbes, published the first two chapters of her novel, "Mama's Bank Account" and "Mama's Roomer," in a national magazine in 1942. (Modern biographical sources note that, despite the seemingly autobiographical nature of the novel, McLean's actual family life only vaguely resembled that of her fictional characters.) RKO bought the rights to McLean's novel for $50,000. Later, RKO bought fifty percent of John van Druten's Broadway adaptation and made a deal with the play's producers, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, to buy the screen rights to the play on a sliding price scale to be calculated at $2,500 for every week of the Broadway run, up to $150,000. The play ran for approximately twenty-one months. The deal with Rodgers and Hammerstein also stipulated that the studio could not begin production on the picture until the Broadway show had closed. Oscar Homolka was the only member of the Broadway show to revive his role on film. Mady Christians played "Mama" in the play, which also featured Marlon Brando in his Broadway debut as "Nels." To perform the role of Peter Thorkelson, popular ventriloquist Edgar Bergen appeared on screen for the first time without his dummy, Charlie McCarthy.
       Some scenes in the picture were filmed in San Francisco, including Telegraph Hill, Russian Hill, the Ferry Building and Liberty Street, and at Agoura Ranch in Agoura, CA. Shortly after RKO acquired McLean's novel, producer Harriet Parsons approached Katina Paxinou, a Greek-born actress, to star as Mama and planned to change the nationality of the story's family from Norwegian to Greek. Modern sources note that Parsons also asked George Cukor to offer the role to Greta Garbo, who had retired by then, but she turned the part down. In addition, modern sources claim that Marlene Dietrich wanted to do the Mama role and had director Mitchell Leisen talk to RKO about casting her, but the studio rejected the idea because of Dietrich's racy image. A March 1948 Los Angeles Times article states that after Parsons "got" Paxinou to play Mama, the project was "snatched away" from her. An article in New York Times adds that, despite being ousted from the film, Parsons received an onscreen producing credit with director George Stevens because of her significant contributions to the final film. According to a New York Times article, Paramount Pictures received twenty-five percent of the film's distribution gross because it had bought Liberty Films, a production company in which Stevens was part owner, in 1947. Modern sources note that, although it received excellent reviews, the picture lost money at the box office because of its big, $3,068,000, budget.
       Irene Dunne was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of "Marta," but lost to Jane Wyman in Johnny Belinda. Homolka was nominated as Best Supporting Actor, but lost to Walter Huston in Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and Barbara Bel Geddes and Ellen Corby were both nominated for Best Supporting Actress, but lost to Claire Trevor in Key Largo. Nicholas Musuraca was nominated for Best Cinematography. In addition to the John van Druten adaptation, McLean's novel was twice turned into a stage musical. The first, entitled Mama, was adapted by Neal Du Brock and John Clifton and opened in Buffalo, New York on January 6, 1972, with Celeste Holm as Mama. In 1979, Richard Rodgers wrote the music for the second musical version, also called Mama, for which Thomas Meehan wrote the book and Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann played Mama. Irene Dunne and Barbara Bel Geddes reprised their roles in a August 30, 1948 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast. McLean's book was also the basis for a television series, I Remember Mama, which was broadcast on the CBS network from July 1, 1949 to March 17, 1957. Peggy Wood starred as Mama in the popular show.