Well, not only did I not find time to write the new Barbara Stanwyck profile page I'd mentioned in a recent post, but I couldn't even pull myself together enough to post a schedule of TCM's Stanwyck movies airing today. I guess I should have gotten more than one hour of sleep yesterday, oh well. But I did promise you some sort of post in honor of Stanwyck's birthday and I don't think this one is too bad.
Below you'll find a gallery of Stanwyck movie card and collectible images (above is Stanwyck and Clark Gable in To Please a Lady (1950), which I believe TCM did air today), but first I'm going to cannibalize part of the Stanwyck birthday post I wrote last year when I was contributing to Examiner.com (now home of the pop-up ad and other distractions). It ain't stealing if it's yours anyway, so here we go:
If you're not a Stanwyck fan yet, chances are you just haven't found the right movies. Barbara Stanwyck enjoyed a long and varied career which she kicked off as a showgirl going by her catchy real name, Ruby Stevens, in the 1920's. Hired by Willard Mack to appear in his play "The Noose" in 1926, Ruby Stevens would become Barbara Stanwyck, meet and marry actor Frank Fay, and then become a star in Arthur Hopkins' 1927 Broadway hit "Burlesque." With the talkie explosion out West, Hollywood came calling for the Fays.
"The Locked Door" on at 6 this morning (no, not this morning, that refers to July 16, 2009) is actually Stanwyck's first talkie. Born in Brooklyn in 1907 and you could really tell it in a lot of Barbara Stanwyck's earliest performances such "Night Nurse" (1931) and "Baby Face" (1933). She also had the opportunity to play in 4 of Frank Capra's early talkies between 1930-1933 and would star in the first of many Westerns in the title role of "Annie Oakley" for George Stevens in 1935. Stanwyck would receive the first of her four Oscar nominations in 1938 for "Stella Dallas" (1937), an emotional drama about a mother's love and sacrifice for her daughter.
The Stanwyck-Fay marriage would come to an end in 1935, and in 1936 she met actor Robert Taylor, whom she starred with in "His Brother's Wife" that same year. They'd marry in 1939, a year which also began a run of some of Stanwyck's most popular films including Cecil B. DeMille's "Union Pacific" (1939); "Golden Boy" (1939) in which she famously rescued William Holden's real career just as it was kicking off (see video below); Preston Sturges' screwball comedy "The Lady Eve" (1940) opposite Henry Fonda; one more for Capra opposite Gary Cooper in "Meet John Doe" (1941); returning to her showgirl roots first as Sugarpuss O'Shea with Cooper again in "Ball of Fire" (1941), which only seems to grow more popular by the year; and then as Dixie Daisy in William Wellman's "Lady of Burlesque" (1943); and finally her career would take an entirely new turn when she played the femme fatale in Billy Wilder's "Double Indemnity" (1944), the movie which arguably ushered in the film noir period.
After portraying a character who was actually evil in "Double Indemnity," Stanwyck found herself doing more of the same in other films for awhile, most notably in "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers" (1946). Her marriage to Taylor ended in 1951 and Stanwyck threw herself more into her career as consequence appearing in hits such as "Clash By Night" (1952), "Titanic" (1953), and "Executive Suite" (1954), before turning to mostly Westerns and then television, and eventually both as the matriarch Victoria Barkley in hit series "The Big Valley" (1965-69). Barbara Stanwyck's last notable work were her guest appearances on "Dynasty" which were spun off into the Emmy nominated series "The Colbys" (1985-86).
Barbara Stanwyck was 82 when she died, January 20, 1990. Besides her Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role in "Stella Dallas" she was also nominated in the same capacity for "Ball of Fire," "Double Indemnity," and "Sorry, Wrong Number." While she didn't bring home the statue for any of those 4 films the Academy would correct the oversight in 1982.
Better than I remembered though I'd still like to get a proper Stanwyck biography up on the site by this time in 2011.
Barbara Stanwyck in my eBay Store
This year TCM's Stanwyck schedule was heavy on the late 40's and early 50's pictures, many of which I haven't seen so the DVD Recorder is spinning away as I write this. Here are my own favorite Stanwyck Classics, heavy on the pre-code, of course, and in an order that could surely change depending upon my mood or when you asked me:
10 - Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)
9 - The Purchase Price (1932)
8 - Meet John Doe (1941)
7 - The Lady Eve (1941)
6 - Ball of Fire (1941)
5 - Ladies They Talk About (1933)
4 - Double Indemnity (1944)
3 - The Miracle Woman (1931)
2 - Night Nurse (1931)
1 - Baby Face (1933)
What are some of your favorite Barbara Stanwyck movies? Favorite Stanwyck era?
I also did a Barbara Stanwyck post over on ClassicMovieSearch.com today which makes mention of Rupert Alistair's excellent recent Stanwyck post on his Classic Movies Digest.
She was my absolute favorite. Something about her onscreen, can’t explain it. She seemed to have this natural charisma. I found a lot of her early 30s stuff a tad on the wooden side, but the talkies were in their infancy back then. I mainly love her 40s and 50s films.
Cliff Aliperti says
Great choice for a favorite, Stanfan, such a long and varied career! I’m actually in the opposite camp, the early ones are my favorites–she seems ready for a hair-trigger explosion in just about every one of them. She’s not as polished, but that just makes her seem all the more honest and human to me. That said I love her later stuff too!
In case you didn’t spot it, here’s another Stanwyck article I wrote for the site more recently in honor of her being named TCM’s Star of the Month for December 2012.