Barbara Stanwyck: What Films to Start With, to Rediscover the Legend

Roxana Anton

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I while ago, I discovered the forgotten legend of Barbara Stanwyck and was absolutely fascinated.

Besides being a cult film, Double Indemnity was so well made and starred actors of such high caliber. It can't be ignored into oblivion.

There are the bigger stars, like Marylin, Audrey, Katharine, Greta, Bette, Elizabeth, Ingrid, Rita, Vivien, Fred, Humphrey, Cary, Gary, Paul, Gregory, Clark, so on...

And then, there are the less-known actors from Hollywood's classic period, let's say - those we remember less. They were extremely talented, had great careers, and did memorable films.

I'm thinking Olivia de Havilland, with sister Joan Fontaine, Barbara Stanwyck, Gene Tierney, and of course - many others.

Today, I'll pay a small tribute to Barbara Stanwyck, as before my quest to the films of the past, I knew nothing of her and her work.

Barbara Stanwyck (July 16, 1907, Brooklyn, New York) was an American actress with a career spanning over sixty years, a favorite of directors, and one of the most brilliant stars of noir films.

After a brief but notable career as a theater actress in the late 1920s, Barbara Stanwyck appeared in eighty-five feature films over 38 years in Hollywood, before becoming a television actress. (source: Wikipedia)

Below, a list of films to start with, if you want to get closer to her work, and those years' atmosphere.

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Meet John Doe (1941)

Meet John Doe is an American dramatic comedy film directed by Frank Capra, starring Barbara and Gary Cooper (I will have to do a list with some of his films, too).

Double Indemnity (1944)

It is one of the best film noirs I've ever seen (only those signed by Alfred Hitchcock can compete).

It was Wilder's third film as director and a major hit, with breath-taking moments, unforgettable suspense, adventures all along.

Nominated for seven Academy Awards, among which Best Director and Screenplay, it was co-written with famous mystery novelist Raymond Chandler.

Double Indemnity not only set conventions for the noir genre but it is also credited by some as the first true film noir, combining the stylistic elements of Citizen Kane with the narrative elements of The Maltese Falcon (1941). (Wikipedia)

The film stars Fred MacMurray as an insurance agent, Barbara Stanwyck as a provocative wife who wants her husband to die, and Edward G. Robinson as a claimant for the same insurance agency whose job is to find out who wants to cheat the company to unjustly collect the compensations.

The term Double Indemnity refers to a clause in certain life insurance policies that doubles the sum of money obtained, in cases where death occurs accidentally. (source: Wikipedia)

Praised by many critics at the premiere, the film is often cited as a paradigmatic noir film and has become a standard for subsequent films in this genre. (source: Wikipedia)

Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Elisabeth, a New York culinary journalist, lies about her personal life, saying she is married and has children. Her boss and a war hero invite themselves to her farm for a traditional Christmas.

(source: filmehd)

The Violent Men (1955)

Who is a fan of the old westerns? It's probably one of America's most traditional signatures.

This one, made in the fifties, stars Glenn Ford, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Dianne Foster. (Wikipedia)

Farmer Parrish, a former Union Army officer who wants to move somewhere east with his fiancée Caroline, decides to sell his farm to Lew Wilkison, a wealthy landowner. But he offers Parrish a ridiculously small sum, preferring to force Parrish to leave the region, carrying out harassment on his farm. In addition, Lew's wife cheated on him. Cole orders the extinction of one of Parrish's men, the war between the two camps being now open.

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