Based on a 1933 novel by Fanny Hurst. The 1959 remake by Douglas Sirk starring Lana Turner and Sandra Dee is probably better known today. The story is loaded with melodrama but is also interesting, absorbing, and socially conscious (particularly for the 1930s).
Claudette Colbert plays Bea Pullman, a widow with a young daughter. In the opening segment, which today would be a model of parental negligence, she meets Delilah a black woman looking for work, and hires her as her housekeeper. Delilah has a young daughter, Peola, who is very light skinned and can pass for white. Delilah also has a killer pancake recipe from her grandmother, and Bea and she start a very successful pancake business and make fortunes.
So you can see where the various story arcs will go. The women become wealthy, their daughters grow up, Bea gets interested in a man, Peola tries to shed her black heritage and is embarrased by her mother, and more. In spite of the fact they are good friends, Delilah still takes care of Bea and lives downstairs with servants. The world can't conceive of them being equals and neither can they. Delilah just wants to take care of the people in her life, and that makes Peola's rejection of her that much more painful, she has nothing else to live for. This film does poignant well.