A Life of Barbara Stanwyck Steel-True 1907-1940

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There is nothing more shocking pre-code, than an early Barbara Stanwyck movie. Some of her most infamous, really stretched any semblance of a code before Breen took over as the strict enforcer of the code. Ladies of Leisure (1930), Illicit (1931), The Miracle Woman (1931), Ten Cents a Dance (1931), Night Nurse (1931), The Purchase Price (1932), Forbidden (1932), Shopworn (1932), The Bitter Tea of General Yen(1933), Ladies They Talk About(1933), and the very notorious Baby Face(1933) which I am thinking just about drove the censors right over the edge. These movies while good, really pushed the envelope.

A Life of Barbara Stanwyck is an intimidating looking book at 860 pages (really 1044 pages if you include appendixes of Stage, Film, Radio, and Television Chronologies etc.). We learn about her life of practically growing up on the stage. Then her move to Hollywood and her 36 movies made between the years 1927 through 1940. It is an excellent film reference book, that doesn’t read like a reference book.

It is an impressively written stage and filmography of not only Barbara but Directors, Actors, and film friends that worked with Barbara. The author Victoria Wilson also includes information about the early labor unions in film, politics, and breakdowns of who got paid what on each film or play Barbara was involved in. It is a well written book that reads like a who’s who of early Hollywood. I’ve read other Barbara books but this is the pièce de résistance.

Don’t be put-off by the size of Vol. I. It is a good, curl up and get lost in classic Hollywood book.  Of course now I can’t wait to read Vol. II I’m hoping I don’t have to wait too long for it to be published…

Illicit

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Illicit(1931 Warner Brothers): Barbara Stanwyck

“There have been women who want to park their heads on this manly bosom.” Illicit

Fearing the loss of her freedom Ann refuses to get married to a man desperately in love with her. The thing is is she’s absolutely hopelessly in love with him too…but her parent’s divorce left a sour taste in her mouth and she can’t bring herself to tie the knot. Still they can’t go on like this when rumors start circulating. So Dick tells her he can’t see her anymore unless they get married. So in the spur of the moment, and against all her better judgment Ann consents, even though she doesn’t believe in marriage, believes it causes oodles of problems, and is urged by a close friend not to do it. The friend is probably the most intriguing thing in this film, because he too doesn’t believe in marriage, loves Ann just as she is, and wants nothing more from her. Dick begins to go astray with an ex-girlfriend  and Ann calls him out on it. With a fresh take on problems so prevalent in society today, this pre-code can teach lessons on how to love, be married and not lose your identity.

Barbara seem so young in this film at 24, and still her acting is spot on! It’s so impressive. And keep an eye out for the devilish Ricardo Cortez as Price Baines, another spot on performance.

Remember the Night

Watching Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray trying not to fall in love as thief and prosecuting attorney, we almost wonder how they ever had a chance- sleeping in cars together, going to dances together, dealing with crazy family drama together, and getting arrested together usually just end up one place- a relationship.

Enjoy this one all the way from the Courthouse to Niagara Falls and back again.

Christmas in Connecticut


Ahhhh, Friday at last. Hope you’re ready to cozy up for our first Friday Date Night Flick, because Christmas in Connecticut has it all- love, laughter, mishaps, and fun, and it’s one of our absolute favorites. With professionally trained singer Dennis Morgan playing our heartsick sailor, and Barbara Stanwyck dropping Christmas ornaments all over the place as she weaves a web of lies, it’s a movie everyone will love.

Classic Holiday Films from Classic Hollywood

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Getting ready to jump into the Holiday Season, we wanted to share our ABSOLUTLEY ESSENTIAL Holiday Films from the days of old. While there are quite a few classic movies out there we decided to narrow it down to ones we’ll definitely make time for.

  1. Christmas in Connecticut(1945): My absolute favorite Christmas film! Dennis Morgan and a smitten Barbara Stanwyck. And if you have this one on dvd make sure to watch the short films included.
  2. Holiday Inn(1942): TCM honors Fred Astaire this month, and it just doesn’t get any better than him trying to find the dance partner of his dreams based on what she looks like from the back. And hearing Bing Crosby sing White Christmas is just icing on the cake.
  3. It Happened on Fifth Avenue(1947): I love, love, love this film. The story of a tramp that takes over the vacant winter home of the elite is filled with hilarious lines, Christmas morals and my favorite scene with the owner of a second hand shop.
  4. Remember the Night(1940): When I watched this with my mother, she said “that’s how it ends?” But the journey with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck is so lovely you almost don’t care. It’s a must see.
  5. Miracle on 34th Street(1947): The Christmas Classic we’ve of course all seen, and as much as sometimes it may feel like a chore to put this one on( never!) the season doesn’t seem to officially start without the Macy’s Day Parade scene.
  6. We’re No Angels(1955): Devil’s Island 1895 Christmas Eve.  Three escaped convicts, hideout in an inept shopkeeper’s family owned store. Maybe they’ll rob them a little bit then murder them in their beds…then again maybe they won’t…this dark comedy Christmas Classic brings all the ‘Sentimental Moments’ of the Holiday Season especially the ‘it’s the thought that counts’ part. How can you go wrong with Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov, and a hunky Aldo Ray as Angels.
  7. It’s a Wonderful Life(1946): No man is poor who has friends! ( not facebook friends, people). And what a good lesson for all of us in this digital age. Leave it to Classic Hollywood to succeed in life lessons and suicide prevention. Try to get this one at least once this season.
  8. Meet John Doe (1941): John Doe’s ‘Love Thy Neighbor’ philosophy ends up being a good idea gone bad. And in bad we mean Edward Arnold as D.B. Norton. Of course it being a Frank Capra movie starring Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper automatically makes it a must see film. The Dimitri Tiomkin music score sets the Christmas sentiment tone.