I Remember Mama

One of my favorite old movies is this one I Remember Mama from 1948. It stars Irene Dunne and is about the life of a Norwegian immigrant family from 1910. Irene plays Martha Halverson, pronounced Marta and has four children, and raises them while dealing with her three sisters, tow of which are mean and stuffy, and the third, played to perfection by Grandma Walton, (Ellen Corby). The head of the family is a loud but wonderfully colorful Uncle Chris, Oskar Homolka.

The family lives in San Francisco and the daughter who wants to be a writer and wrote the book is the story teller. I remember this movie for several reasons. I know now how that Mama is an ideal Proverbs 31 woman. She manages the money at the kitchen table in a family meeting, something I always admired. Husbands and wives being in agreement and talking things over, the bills are paid, then the necessities. And then decisions are made on what we need or can do without. Mama is frugal but a financial planner as well. And she always says, ” Is good we don’t have to go to the bank. ”

She cooks and cleans and keeps up with her children’s activities and her  sisters’, including  Trina who wants to marry the mortician. She is cajoled into telling the other two. ” If they make fun of me I’ll yump in the bay. ” says Trina. Mama wisely knows how to handle the pair of old bitties, and threatens to tell their own secrets.

She deals with her bratty daughter Christine, watches Katrin grow up and return a graduation gift, helps her son Nels, go on to high school. The coming of age thing is to get a cup of coffee.

She deals with her husband and his job lay off, her daughter’s operation, and even tries to chloroform a sick cat, who gets well. And her little girl believes she cured her. The scene where she scrubs the floor of the hospital is touching. She is not allowed to see Dagmar, but sneaks in so she will not break her promise.

She also engages her loud Uncle Chris and meets him head on, telling him her frightens the children. She is not afraid to ride in a car with a woman believed to be his mistress though he’s married her. She does not pass judgement, says she looks nice. She forgives a border his debt and never gets to buy her winter coat.

She handles things when Uncle Chris dies, while her sisters want money and think he was a mean old drunk, she knows the truth, he paid for children’s operations so they could walk, because he limped. Finally, she even swaps recipes, family secrets, with a writer to help her daughter with her writing dream. Yes, I Remember Mama is a classic. I try to watch it with my mother for Mother’s Day. I realize God taught me lot about things from my love old  films, the screwball comedienne talent of Irene Dunne becomes the perfect mother, and I will always remember Mama. Rebecca Jones


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