After divorcing a society man, a small-town woman tries to build a better life for their daughter.
Barbara Stanwyck is the ambitious, working class "Stella" who, determined to improve her lot in life, marries well-to-do "Stephen Dallas" (John Boles) and shortly afterwards they have a daughter "Laurel" (Anne Shirley). It doesn't take long before the couple become estranged and "Laurel" the sole focus of her mother's attentions. Nothing is too good for her, and in striving to give "Laurel" the best she gradually realises - sometimes, by some rather harsh means - that she herself may be standing in the way of the girl's happiness; particularly once her now ex-husband finds love elsewhere with a family her daughter adores. The performances deal well with the issues of ambition, devotion, snobbery and emotional cruelty and Stanwyck plays the title role with skill and sincerity. Alan Hale is also good, as the avuncular gambler, in this ultimately rather touching story.