A lot of talk this year was about how Martin Scorsese showed amazing range by directing Hugo. But back in the day, George Stevens showed far more versatility and range by directing movies as diverse as Shane (perhaps the best Western ever), The Diary of Ann Frank, Giant (James Dean’s last movie), Woman of the Year (the first Katherine Hepburn – Spencer Tracy romantic comedy) and Swing Time (the definitive Fred Astaire – Ginger Rogers vehicle). In the midst of that, Stevens gave us I Remember Mama, a movie set in the early 1900’s about a Norwegian immigrant family living in San Francisco.
The best word to describe I Remember Mama is “heartwarming,” and I defy anyone to watch this film and not be moved by it. But here’s the thing about how to warm a heart: unlike so many modern films that go for heartwarming with overly orchestrated music and long, sentimental camera shots, I Remember Mama delivers heartwarming by telling a great story.
I watch movies for the stories. Stories help me decide what I love and value most in this world. And my hunch is the reason you watch movies and come to this site is because you love stories, too.
What links all of George Stevens’ movies together is his total mastery of how to tell a story. You could do a lot worse than watching all of the movies listed above. But start with I Remember Mama and you won’t be disappointed.