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Barbara Stanwyck Movies

Barbara StanwyckBarbara Stanwyck movies. There have probably been few transformations more striking than that of Ruby Stevens of Brooklyn into Barbara Stanwyck of Hollywood — the highest-paid woman in the United States in 1944. Stanwyck, whose film career lasted from the dawn of the sound era to the mid-1960s, is Turner Classic Movies' "Summer Under the Stars" subject on Tuesday, August 19. [Barbara Stanwyck movie schedule.]

Personally, I find Barbara Stanwyck one of the greatest film actresses ever; a performer all but incapable of a phony moment on screen. Strangely, considering the kinds of roles she played — sometimes sexy, sometimes malevolent, sometimes androgynous, sometimes all three (and more) — I've always found it curious that actresses like Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and Katharine Hepburn could maintain large followings today while Barbara Stanwyck remains well-known chiefly among Old Hollywood lovers.

Now, which of TCM's Barbara Stanwyck films would I recommend? Well, the answer is: all of them. If Barbara Stanwyck is in it, then it's worth watching no matter the plot, the direction, or the other actors.

Recommended Barbara Stanwyck movies

But which Barbara Stanwyck movies would I particularly recommend?

For starters, The Locked Door, a 1929 super-rarity that is a TCM (and probably a television) premiere. Don't expect anything great, even though the film — a remake of the Norma Talmadge silent The Sign on the Door — was directed by the capable George Fitzmaurice (The Barker, Mata Hari). After all, this is 1929, when talkies mostly creaked and screeched.

Even so, The Locked Door offers a chance to catch a very early Stanwyck, in addition to silent film stars Rod La Rocque (The Ten Commandments, Forbidden Paradise) and Betty Bronson (Peter Pan, A Kiss for Cinderella) in one of their few important talking pictures. William 'Stage' Boyd — not to be confused with William Boyd of the Hopalong Cassidy flicks — is also in the film. (The 'Stage' Boyd had a bad reputation, which sometimes got the Hopalong Boyd in trouble.)

Ten Cents a Dance (1931) should be seen because it's also quite hard to find. It's hardly a good film — a potboiler that isn't nearly as saucy as one would have expected from a pre-Code movie — but both Barbara Stanwyck and her legs do look great. The handsome, suave Ricardo Cortez co-stars; the year's Best Actor Oscar winner, Lionel Barrymore (for his dreadful performance in A Free Soul), was Ten Cents a Dance's uninspired director.

Barbara Stanwyck sensational in 'scandalous' Baby Face

The best pre-Coder to be shown on TCM is Alfred E. Green's Baby Face (1933), which was considered so immoral, so disgusting, so vile, so evil, so dirty, so perverse, so depraved that it was temporarily taken out of circulation, recut, and redubbed so it could be released to the general God-fearing public without leading husbands to cheat on their mistresses, mothers to drown their children in their own milk, or dogs to bite their owners. Baby Face was restored to its glorious sinfulness a few years ago.

In the film, Barbara Stanwyck stars as a social climber who, quite adroitly, uses her legs — and, it is implied, other body parts — to climb the corporate ladder. Baby Face is not to be missed despite the presence of the invariably stolid George Brent as Stanwyck's leading man.

["TCM: Barbara Stanwyck Movies" continues on the next page. See link below.]

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4 Comments to Barbara Stanwyck Movies

  1. Joao Soares

    Quite a collection! Lucky those who'll be able to watch the TCM Tuesday (this from a poster down under).

    "Baby Face" is a delightful pre-Code film — Ms. Stanwyck's character is quite explicit in sleeping her way to the top of the corporate ladder and it's all done in an almost acceptable way! Stunning and well worth watching.

    "Night Nurse" is also a gem — but then again, I tend to be very partial to Ms. Stanwyck's work. The pace is very fast, detractors of older days' cinema won't find cause to complain.

    I haven't seen "Clash by Nigh" in many, many years. I'd gotten the impression the line "I've always depended on the kindness of strangers" was delivered in the beginning, at a bar… But given "Streetcar", I'd need to double check.

    Ah! I'm so envious of TCM viewers! After watching them on Tuesday, I'd recommend watching 1939's "Golden Boy", then log on to "YouTube" and search for "Barbara Stanwyck William Holden Oscars" and you'll be in for one of the most moving moments in Hollywood history.

  2. Gal Sal

    Barbara STanwyck was also great in "The Two Mrs. Carrolls." I haven't seen that one in a long time, but I remember really liking it way back when.

  3. Andre

    "The Lady Eve" is by far my favorite Preston Sturges comedy. I didn't "recommend" it because it wasn't included in TCM's Barbara Stanwyck marathon.

  4. Nieves

    What about "The Lady Eve"?!One of my fav ever. Not only thanks to Barbara but also to great Henry Fonda and to the brilliant directing by Preston Sturges.




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