Saturday, May 9, 2009



Bogart’s character’s hardened mom in DEAD END, who, after he risks arrest to see her, tells him she’s sorry he was ever born
James Dean’s character’s mother, the madam he discovers in EAST OF EDEN and drags his brother to force them together in an explosion of overacting that’s so intense it seemed brand new at the time, now it seems, to me at least, way over done
The “ma” Cagney’s character screams he’s at the “top of the world” to in the climax of WHITE HEAT, a scene cited often as classic, though the one that’s truly uniquely classic is when the middle-aged Cagney as Cody sits on his elderly but criminally cruel mother’s lap for solace, as grotesque and indelible an image as any movie has ever produced

Greer Garson’s selfless chin-up-smiling-through-the-tears World War Two mother and symbol of English resistance to the blitz despite the loss of an innocent daughter to its randomness (am I remembering that correctly?) in MRS. MINIVER for which she won an Oscar
Joan Crawford’s lurid palette—even in black-and-white—as the title character whose motherhood is lethal to her offspring in MILDRED PIERCE, another Oscar winner
Cher’s realistic rendering of a drug and sex addled but nonetheless loving single mom in MASK should have been nominated for an Oscar

Jane Darwell’s poignant maternal acceptance of Henry Fonda’s transformation from the stalwart son of the Joad family into another outlaw against the ravages of capitalism in GRAPES OF WRATH
Anne Ramsay’s comically crazy control-freak slapstick shtick as the mother of her wannabe gangster sons played by Robert Davi and Joe Pantilioni in THE GOONIES
Anne Bancroft in THE GRADUATE (‘nuff said)

John Travolta as the surprisingly believable and endearing mother in HAIRSPRAY
Shelley Winters as the unsurprisingly cloying and annoying mother in LOLITA
Elizabeth Taylor as the surprisingly believable but imaginary mother in WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOLFE?

In the amazingly accomplished star studded cast of PARENTHOOD, Dianne Wiest’s single mother is most unforgettable
In the groundbreaking Great Depression gangster film THE PUBLIC ENEMY, Beryl Mercer’s unconditional—if conflicted—motherly love for Cagney’s breakthrough character makes the film more than mere sensationalism
Anthony Perkins playing his character’s own mother as his startling star turn in PSYCHO

Irene Dunne in I REMEMBER MAMA
Jean Arthur in SHANE


[woops, and how could I forget Nicole Beharie and Alfre Woodard in AMERICAN VIOLET]


John M. Lally said...

Piper Laurie was incredibly creepy in Carrie.

Jennifer Coolidge as Stifler's mom in "American Pie" popularized the term "MILF".

John M. Lally said...
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