Stella is a 1990 American drama film produced by The Samuel Goldwyn Company and released by Touchstone Pictures. The screenplay by Robert Getchell is the third feature film adaptation of the 1920 novel Stella Dallas by Olive Higgins Prouty.
The title character is a vulgar and unfashionable single mother living in Watertown, NY, who, determined to give her daughter Jenny all the opportunities she never had, ultimately makes a selfless sacrifice to ensure her happiness. This film version differs from earlier versions in that Stella never marries the father of her child, and in fact, declines his proposal early in the film.
John Erman directed a cast that included Bette Midler as Stella and Trini Alvarado as Jenny, with John Goodman, Stephen Collins, Marsha Mason, Eileen Brennan, Linda Hart, Ben Stiller, and William McNamara in supporting roles.
Stella (Bette Midler) is a feisty single good time gal working in a bar when she meets and falls for the suave charms of the young Dr. Steve Dallas (Stephen Collins ). Although from opposite ends of the social spectrum they start an affair resulting in Stella becoming pregnant. After he proposes half heartedly she rejects him and embarks upon raising their child Jenny as a single mother but is always helped and encouraged by her stalwart friend, a local good natured barfly, Ed Munn (John Goodman). Stella is fiercely independent and proud and is determined to do well by this child and take on whatever jobs she must to raise her daughter properly. When Jenny is 4 years old her father suddenly re appears on the scene and is determined to get to know his daughter. At first reluctant to allow this Stella is persuaded to allow contact and a happy bond develops between the father and daughter. As Jenny ( Trini Alvarado) grows up she becomes torn between her fathers rich and well connected background and her loyalty and love for her mother who is poor and crass and vulgar but devoted to her daughter. She also despises the perceived relationship she sees developing between Stella and Ed Munn who is now a broken alcoholic. Jenny eventually meets and falls for a boy from her fathers 'world' and Stella realizes that now the disparities in her own and and Jennys father's backgrounds might jeopardize her daughters future happiness. So she makes a heart rending decision played out in the last 10 minutes of the film to ensure that this is not going to happen.
- Bette Midler - Stella Claire
- John Goodman - Ed Munn
- Trini Alvarado - Jenny Claire
- Stephen Collins - Stephen Dallas
- Marsha Mason - Janice Morrison
- Eileen Brennan - Mrs. Wilkerson
- Ben Stiller - Jim Uptegrove
- Linda Hart - Debbie Whitman
- William McNamara - Pat Robbins
- John Bell - Bob Morrison
- Ashley Peldon - Jenny (age 3)
- Alisan Porter - Jenny (age 8)
- Kenneth Kimmins - Security Guard
- Bob Gerchen - Bartender
- Willie Rosario - Dancing Waiter
- Rex Robbins - Minister
- Ron White - Tony De Banza
- Matthew Cowles - Sid
- Louis Ferreira - Cocaine Dealer
- Peter MacNeill - Bobby
- Michael Hogan - Billy
- George Buza - George
- Eric Keenleyside - Wendell
- Catherine Robbin - Leider Singer
- Rob McClure - Steven's Friend
- Sam Malkin - Man in Theatre
- Jayne Eastwood - Nurse
- Charles W. Gray - PTA Parent
- John Kozak - Mr. Wilkerson
- Terrence Langevin - Bingo Announcer
- Elva Mai Hoover - Mrs. Hough
- Glynis Davies - Mrs. Douglas
- Philip Akin - Police Officer
- Jayne Rager - Preppy Girl #1
- Megan Gallivan - Preppy Girl #2
The movie received mediocre reviews. In her New York Times review, Janet Maslin said, "Bette Midler, too old for the film's opening and too smart for its resolution, isn't exactly the right actress, but she's a lot closer than might have been expected. Ms. Midler manages to gloss over the story's inconsistencies, play up its charming aspects, and generally bluster her way through . . . her exuberance is most helpful in overshadowing the inconvenient aspects of this story."
Razzie Award nominations went to Midler for Worst Actress and Jay Gruska and Paul Gordon for Worst Original Song ("One More Cheer").
The movie debuted at No.2. Total US gross for the film was $20,062,347.
The film was more successful on Home video.Stella was released on DVD on April 8, 2003. The film was presented in Widescreen format, no special features were included.
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