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Watch: 50 Timeless Movie Moms

Watch: 50 Timeless Movie Moms

Who could forget the opening scene of Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece ‘Goodfellas‘? There’s the “in medias res” dynamic (the titular trio are
riding in a car with a supposed dead body in the trunk), the shocking
violence (the screen even dips to color in red during a gun shooting)
and then there’s Henry Hill’s (Ray Liotta) iconic voiceover line (“As
far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster”). What’s
most interesting about this scene is that when we circle around and
revisit it later in the film, it is juxtaposed against the tenderness of
the domestic scene that precedes it: the trio, in an effort to finish
the burial of Billy Batts’ corpse, makes a rendezvous to Tommy’s (Joe
Pesci) mother’s house to pick up a shovel. They’re surprised when
Tommy’s mother (played by Scorsese’s own mother Catherine) is awake and
forces them all to stop what they’re doing and eat a home cooked meal.
The scene is memorable for its warmth, its generosity and the
authenticity of having grown men respectfully obeying the authority and
presence of a home’s matriarch. For a film about gangsters doing
terrible things, this scene has the knowing power to anchor these
characters as real and ultimately vulnerable. That’s one of the many
strengths that mothers have: the uncanny ability to humble us. And
throughout the history of cinema, mothers have had an everlasting impact
on the screen characters we love. ‘Goodfellas’ is another prime example
of this. Even tough guys have moms too.

And here is a list of the moms appearing in this video essay, in order:

Flowers in the Attic
Mother (Victoria Tennant)

Sounder
Rebecca Morgan (Cicely Tyson)

Bambi
Bambi’s Mother (Paula Winslowe)

The Incredibles
Helen Parr (Holly Hunter)

Mrs. Miniver

Mrs. Miniver (Greer Garson)

Precious
Mary (Mo’Nique)

Gloria
Gloria Swenson (Gena Rowlands)

The Grifters
Lilly Dillon (Anjelica Huston)

Mask
Florence ‘Rusty’ Dennis (Cher)


Cinderella
Fairy Godmother (Verna Felton)

Not Without My Daughter
Betty Mahmoody (Sally Field)

Freaky Friday
Mrs. Andrews (Barbara Harris)

Mother
Beatrice Henderson (Debbie Reynolds)

Bloody Mama
‘Ma’ Kate Barker (Shelley Winters)

The Manchurian Candidate
Mrs. Eleanor Shaw Iselin (Angela Lansbury)

Mildred Pierce
Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford)

Rosemary’s Baby
Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow)

New York Stories
Mother (Mae Questel)

Freaky Friday
Tess Coleman (Jamie Lee Curtis)

Ordinary People
Beth (Mary Tyler Moore)

Throw Momma From The Train
Momma (Anne Ramsey)


Mommie Dearest
Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway)

Serial Mom
Beverly R. Sutphin (Kathleen Turner)

A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Monica Swinton (Frances O’Connor)

American Gangster
Mama Lucas (Ruby Dee)

Carrie
Margaret White (Piper Laurie)

The Brood
Nola Carveth (Samantha Egger)

Mother
Mother (Hye-ja Kim)

The Fighter
Alice Ward (Melissa Leo)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton)

Psycho
Norma Bates (Virginia Gregg)

Mrs. Doubtfire
Mrs. Doubtfire (Robin Williams)

American Pie
Stifler’s Mom (Jennifer Coolidge)

The Kids Are All Right
Nic (Annette Bening)

Jules (Julianne Moore)

Mamma Roma
Mamma Roma (Anna Magnani)

Goodfellas
Tommy’s Mother (Catherine Scorsese)

Dumbo
Mrs. Jumbo (Verna Felton)

Sophie’s Choice
Sophie (Meryl Streep)

Philadelphia
Sarah Beckett (Joanne Woodward)

Terms of Endearment
Emma Horton (Debra Winger)

Aurora Greenway (Shirley MacLaine)

Boyz N The Hood
Mrs. Baker (Tyra Ferrell)

Monster’s Ball
Leticia Musgrove (Halle Berry)

The Passion of the Christ
Mary (Maia Morgenstern)

The Curious Base of Benjamin Button
Queenie (Taraji P. Henson)

Stepmom
Jackie Harrison (Susan Sarandon)

Forrest Gump
Mrs. Gump (Sally Field)


What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
Bonnie Grape (Darlene Cates)

The Fox and the Hound
Tod’s Mother (N/A)

Beaches
Hillary Whitney Essex (Barbara Hershey)

A Farewell to Arms
Catherine Barkley (Helen Hayes)

Nelson Carvajal is an independent digital filmmaker, writer and
content creator based out of Chicago, Illinois. His digital short films
usually contain appropriated content and have screened at such venues as
the London Underground Film Festival. Carvajal runs a blog called FREE CINEMA NOW which
boasts the tagline: “Liberating Independent Film And Video From A
Prehistoric Value System.” You can follow Nelson on Twitter here.

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