Friday, August 22, 2008

Pre-code Stanwyck and the opening of the Media Room

Barbara Stanwyck in Frank Capra's Forbidden (1932).

In addition to talking about Barbara Stanwyck's pre-code career, I'd also like to announce the opening of the Cinema OCD Media Room. I decided to start a second blog for shorter reviews of films and books about films. It is getting to the point where I feel like my posts are too long and I don't have enough time to get into the particulars if I'm talking about more than a couple of movies. So after you finish reading about Stanwyck's pre-code career, please check out the Media Room.

I first came to love Barbara Stanwyck in Ball of Fire. She was tough talking, funny, sexy and not afraid to make a straight forward play for the guy she wants. What I didn't realize that dance hall girl Sugar Puss O'Shea, from Ball of Fire was a comic parody of the types of roles Stanwyck was first famous for in her pre-code career. Barbara Stanwyck was one of the many stage actors recruited to act in the newly developed talking pictures. She went west with her husband a vaudeville actor who was testing at Columbia Pictures. Barbara tested as well and got a non-exclusive deal with the studio. She made her first talkie The Locked Room (1929). She played a woman who tries to take her fall for her husband on a murder charge. She played a working class girl, who marries well. This would be a pattern for Barbara over the next five years. She almost always played a character from a humble background who rises either through her own wits and talents, through marriage or by hooking up with the right men. Her characters were almost always street wise and tough-talking, a bit like Sugar Puss but perhaps not quite as funny.

Check out reviews of The Locked Door, Illicit, Night Nurse, Forbidden, Shopworn, The Bitter Tea of General Yen and Baby Face in the media room. There will be at least two more reviews in the days to come so stay tuned.


kda0121 said...

I absolutely love and adore Barbara Stanwyck. I have 45 movies with her and she could do it all. The coming of the code may have smoothed out some of Stanwyck's rough edges from the precode days, but she was still a tough dame. I am crazy about Missy, as her friends called her and her precode movies. But, I must admit that my favorite movies with her were all made around the same time, 1940 and 1941. Remember the Night, with Fred MacMurray, Meet John Doe and Ball of Fire, both with Gary Cooper and The Lady Eve, with Henry Fonda are all outstanding classics and it is downright criminal that Barbara didn't win an Oscar for one of them.

AbbyNormal said...

Recently, I have been getting to know Stanwyck. Her personal bio is fascinating - I had no idea, but I guess it makes sense give how she comes across. I have seen "Ball of Fire" and "The Lady Eve" both of which were great fun. I am adding "Night Nurse" and "Baby Face" to my Netflix Queue as those are the only ones of your reviews that I can get on DVD. I look forward to seeing them!