By Rick Bretz
On this Mother’s Day, let’s look back at the some of the best movie moms as they protect, defend, encourage and stand by their sons and daughters. As everyone knows, Don’t mess with Mom!
1. Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in the Terminator (1984) and T2 (1991)
Sarah Connor reloads the assault weapon with one arm as she becomes a one-woman army. She fights Arnold’s terminator first and then a Robert Patrick’s T-1000 shape shifter who keeps on coming like a human Tsunami. All of this while she fights to keep her son safe so he can lead people into future battles with the machines. What does she get for her troubles? She gets locked up and fed drugs. But, not to worry, she’s been counting pull ups and sit ups and studying how to be the best survivalist ever. The time has come for her to get busy being a Mom when she breaks out.
2. Shelley Duvall as Wendy Torrance in The Shining (1980)
Wendy Torrance has to put up with tons of brooding and abuse from Jack Nicholson’s character in this movie. He drags her to a Ski Lodge in the mountains so he can get away to write his next masterpiece and he comes up with “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” In addition, his son sees waves of blood coming from the elevator and repeats the word “REDRUM.’ (Spoiler, but if you haven’t seen it by now…!) She wins in the end because she has spent her days at the isolated getaway figuring out the maze outside the hotel. Moms are always prepared.
3. Jessie Royce Landis as Clara Thornhill in North By Northwest (1959)
Clara Thornhill as Roger Thornhill’s mother in Alfred Hitchcock’s cross country thriller plays her part perfectly. She stands by her son although she thinks he is paranoid and a little over-worked. Roger Thornhill, of course, is not imagining anything but Clara’s past history with her son plays into her assessment of his well being at the estate once being released by the court system. The mother sets up the rest of the movie. Jessie Royce Landis was only eight years older than Cary Grant at the time but she succeeds in making us believe she is his mother. Perfect case of standing by your child even if you think he is off his rocker.
4. Margaret Wycherly as Mother York in Sergeant York (1941)
Before Sergeant Alvin York becomes a war hero in World War I, he goes through a process of rehabilitation where he is born again and follows the word of God. He takes this seriously and becomes a conscientious objector because of the commandment “I shalt not kill.” While he was transforming and soul-searching, Mother York stood by him and gave him encouragement. After some long thought while on furlough, he decided it would be wise to go to war with his weapon and save lives by doing his best to end the war early. The decision would have been more difficult if Mother York had not let him decide for himself.
5. Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter (1968)
Being a mother in 1183 had to be tough no matter your status in life. Not many comforts back then. For Queen Eleanor, she had to be a mother while being in imprisoned by King Henry II while he was running around with his mistress whom he wanted to marry. In the movie, although she is imprisoned she holds her own in the verbal sparring department. The dialogue between O’Toole and Hepburn is one of the best movie scenes in history. As a Mother, The Queen knows when to scold and when to support. One of the movie’s best scenes involves Hepburn and Anthony Hopkins’ portraying Prince Richard (The Lion-Hearted). She talks to him as a Mother and not as a Queen. For Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine to Peter O’Toole’s King Henry II, she schemes to control the situation as an aging King Henry struggles to name a successor among his sons.
6. Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side (2009)
Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for her performance in this film. Based on real events, this movie shows how a Mom with a purpose can change someone’s life. She’s a one woman wrecking crew and won’t stop until people understand. Along the way, she won’t put up with any racism or any other nonsense, even when it comes from gang members. She also knows how to coach and gives her adopted son a great piece of advice during football practice.
7. Cher as Florence “Rusty” Dennis in Mask (1985)
Moms don’t have to be perfect. What great moms have in common is that they all defend their children. They also support and encourage when needed. Cher’s performance as “Rusty” shows all her flaws but it also shows her supporting her son “Rocky”, who has a condition that deforms his skull. He looks different from everyone on the outside but is just the same as every other teen who has dreams. Judging someone from the inside and not how they look or by skin color is a lesson that still applies today and still has to be learned by others.
8. Jane Darwell as Ma Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Darwell’s performance as Ma Joad holds the movie together. Sure, Henry Fonda gives a great soliloquy at the end of the movie but look who he’s giving it to—his mother. She endures the mid-west dust bowl conditions that takes their loses their livelihood. She packs up the family and their possessions and travels all the way to California for a chance at a better life. Bad luck continues but she continues holding the family together. Fantastic movie and a great performance.