Throwback Thursday: Barbara Stanwyck Film Festival

MoviefiedNYC throws back this Thursday by taking its cue from Film Forum’s month long Barbara Stanwyck Film Festival (December 6 through December 31, 2013). In conjunction with the festival Film Forum will promote and sell A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940, a new biography by Victoria Wilson.

Brooklyn born, Stanwyck is regarded as one of Hollywood’s most underrated actresses (she never won a Best Actress Oscar). She could do it all: melodrama (Stella Dallas), comedy (The Lady Eve), film noir (Double Indemnity), Westerns (The Furies), thrillers (Sorry, Wrong Number), scandalous Pre-Code films (Baby Face), and even a disaster film (Titanic). Stanwyck was a rare talent who could effortlessly be at home in many genres, causing her fans to laugh, cry, root or hiss (she played a damn good villain). But even as a baddy you couldn’t help but side with Stanwyck. 

Double Indemnity (1944)

One of the earliest and best examples of the film noir genre features Stanwyck as a dangerous dame sporting the infamously bad blond wig. Fred MacMurray plays an insurance man she seduces into planning her husband’s murder.

Baby Face (1933) 

An early Pre-Code flick that features Stanwyck at her sauciest as a young woman who climbs her way to the top by using her body—she does, indeed, sleep her way to the top using her looks and a little inspiration by Nietzsche’s writings and an old philosopher, “ . . .exploit yourself . . . use men to get the things you want!”  And she does, floor by floor.


The Lady Eve (1944)

One of Stanwyck’s best comedies (and early Hollywood’s for that matter). As part of a father-daughter con team, she tries to swindle Henry Fonda out of his millionsonly to fall for him. It’s a sophisticated slapstick comedy that seems a likely inspiration for 1972’s What’s Up Doc. 

Stella Dallas (1937) 

Stanwyck lost the best actress Oscar to Luise Rainer who won for The Good Earth.  This time she plays a good girl, Stellaperhaps too good as she sacrifices a relationship with her daughter, Laurel so that the latter can have the advantages in life that Stella working class background can’t provide. 

The Furies (1950)

The Furies is a melodrama and a Western with a dash of Greek tragedy. Stanwyck’s character exhibits a little Electra complex (a raging daughter wielding a pair of scissors). Walter Houston plays Stanwyk’s treacherous father who turns her world inside out when he brings a new women into his life. Watch out for those scissors, Dame Judith Anderson!
–John David West

Don’t forget to tweet us @MoviefiedNYC #TBT

Find tickets and showtimes on Fandango.

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