Irene Dunne

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Cimarron Review


Good
In 1931 you didn't just go out to the desert, line up 500 horses and covered wagons, and recreate the Oklahoma land rush. This is early sound filmmaking. How would you record such a thing with the primitive microphones of the day?

Well, in 1931, that's exactly what Wesley Ruggles did, creating the most impressive opening scene in the history of film up to that point. (It's probably why his film won Best Picture that year, though it's frequently regarded as one of the least merited winners of that award.)

Continue reading: Cimarron Review

The Awful Truth Review


Excellent
The print may be fading, but the comedy is solid. Cary Grant rules in this classic of the screwball comedy genre, but the dog steals the show. With Irene Dunne as his estranged wife, boy loses girl then tries to get girl back in one of the best comedies of its era (the 1930s). Grant's antics are hysterical.

I Remember Mama Review


Excellent
A sentimental but well-intentioned portrait of an immigrant family, I Remember Mama is an oddity for Hollywood -- very slow, almost entirely lacking in dramatic punch, but surprisingly realistic. Martha Hanson (Irene Dunne) is the center of a Norwegian-American family in early 20th century San Francisco. (The row houses are still standing, but no one who lives in them has to count pennies.) The story is narrated by a daughter (Barbara Bel Geddes) who worshipfully portrays her mother through her own somewhat selfish lens, but allows us to see her mother as she is: uneducated, strong, simple, forthright, and content. Like so many immigrants, Mama unsentimentally embraces her new country and raises her children as acculturated Americans, without changing herself.

The role was a stretch for Irene Dunne, usually a comedienne who teamed with Cary Grant, among others, in screwball comedies of the '30s and '40s (The Awful Truth, etc.). Unfortunately, the film signaled her retirement rather than a new beginning.

Continue reading: I Remember Mama Review

Irene Dunne

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