Working-class Stella Martin marries high-end Stephen Dallas and soon they have a daughter named Laurel. But Stephen's incessant demands of Stella to become what she isn't leads to their eventual separation. Stephen later marries Helen Morrison (his prior fiancée), and Laurel becomes the focus of Stella's life and love. Nothing is too good for Laurel as far as Stella is concerned. Determined to give her all the advantages, she takes Laurel on a trip to an expensive resort where Laurel makes friends with rich kids. After an embarrassing incident, Stella realizes that her daughter would go farther in life without Stella as her mother. Her subsequent sacrifice is shattering.
Stella Dallas is a 1937 film based on the Olive Higgins Prouty novel of the same name. It was directed by King Vidor, and stars Barbara Stanwyck, John Boles, and Anne Shirley. Stanwyck was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and Shirley for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.