Barbara Stanwyck


Barbara Stanwyck (born Ruby Catherine Stevens; July 16, 1907 – January 20, 1990) was an American actress, model and dancer. A stage, film and television star, she was known during her 60-year career as a consummate and versatile professional for her strong, realistic screen presence. A favorite of directors including Cecil B. DeMille, Fritz Lang and Frank Capra, she made 85 films in 38 years before turning to television.

Stanwyck got her start on the stage in the chorus as a Ziegfeld girl in 1923 at age 16 and within a few years was acting in plays. She was then cast in her first lead role in Burlesque (1927), becoming a Broadway star. Soon after that, Stanwyck obtained film roles and got her major break when Frank Capra chose her for his romantic drama Ladies of Leisure (1930), which led to additional lead roles including: William A. Wellman’s Night Nurse (1931), with Ben Lyon, Joan Blondell and Clark Gable; John Ford‘s The Plough and the Stars (1937), with Preston Foster and Barry Fitzgerald; William A. Seiter’s This Is My Affair (1937), with Robert Taylor, Victor McLaglen and Brian Donlevy.

In 1937 she had the title role in King Vidor‘s Stella Dallas and received her first Academy Award nomination for best actress. Other films at this time included Alfred Santell’s Breakfast for Two (1937), with Herbert Marshall; Sidney Lanfield’s Always Goodbye (1938), with Marshall and Cesar Romero; De Millie’s Union Pacific (1939), with Joel McRea; and Rouben Mamoulian’s Golden Boy (1939), with Adolphe Menjou and William Holden.

In 1941 she starred in two successful screwball comedies: Howard Hawks‘s Ball of Fire with Gary Cooper, and Preston Sturges‘s The Lady Eve with Henry Fonda. She received her second Academy Award nomination for Ball of Fire, and in recent decades The Lady Eve has come to be regarded as a romantic comedy classic with Stanwyck’s performance called one of the best in American comedy. Other notable films at the time include

By 1944, Stanwyck had become the highest-paid woman in the United States. She starred alongside Fred MacMurray and Edward G. Robinson in Billy Wilder‘s seminal film noir Double Indemnity (1944), playing the smoldering wife who persuades MacMurray’s insurance salesman to kill her husband. Described as one of the ultimate portrayals of villainy, it is widely thought that Stanwyck should have won the Academy Award for Best Actress rather than being just nominated.

Other notable films at the time include Peter Godfrey’ Christmas in Connecticut (1945), with Dennis Morgan, and Sydney Greenstreet; Irving Pichel’s The Bride Wore Boots (1946), with Robert Cummings and an early role for Natalie Wood; Lewis Milestone’s The Strange Loves of Martha Ivers (1946), with Van Heflin, Lizabeth Scott and features Kirk Douglas in his film debut; John Farrow‘s California (1947), with Ray Millisard and Barry Fitzgerald; Peter Godfrey’s The Two Mrs. Carrols (1947), with Humphrey Bogart and Alexis Smith; and Godfrey’s Cry Wolf (1947), with Errol Flynn.

She received another Oscar nomination for her lead performance as an invalid wife overhearing her own murder plot in Anitole Litvak’s thriller film noir, Sorry, Wrong Number (1948), with Burt Lancaster. Other notable films at the time include Anthony Mann‘s The Furies (1950), with Wendell Corey, and Walter Huston (in his final role); Fritz Lang’s Clash by Night (1952), with Paul Douglas, Robert Ryan, Marilyn Monroe and Keith Andes; Douglas Sirk‘s All I Desire (1953), with Richard Carlson, Lyle Bettger, Marcia Henderson, Lori Nelson, and Maureen O’Sullivan; Roy Rowland’s These Wilder Years (1956), with James Cagney; Gerd Oswald’s Crime of Passion (1957), with Sterling Hayden and Raymond Burr; Edward Dmytryk’s Walk on the Wild Side (1962), with Laurence Harvey, Capucine, Jane Fonda, and Anne Baxter.

She moved into television in the 1960s, she won three Emmy Awards – for The Barbara Stanwyck Show (1961), the western series The Big Valley (1966), and miniseries The Thorn Birds (1983), with Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward, Christopher Plummer, Piper Laurie, Jean Simmons, Richard Kiley, Bryan Brown, Mare Winningham, and Philip Anglim. She received an Honorary Oscar in 1982, the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1986 and was the recipient of several other honorary lifetime awards. She was ranked as the 11th greatest female star of classic American cinema by the American Film Institute. An orphan at the age of four, and partially raised in foster homes, she always worked; one of her directors, Jacques Tourneur, said of Stanwyck, “She only lives for two things, and both of them are work.”

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(*seen rereleased in theaters)

  • Broadway Nights (1927) – directed by Joseph C. Boyle – uncredited – only silent film – lost
  • The Locked Door (1929) – directed by George Fitzmaurice
  • Mexicali Rose (1929) – directed by Erle C. Kenton
  • Ladies of Leisure (1930) – directed by Frank Capra
  • Illicit (1931) – directed by Archie Mayo
  • Ten Cents a Dance (1931) – directed by Lionel Barrymore
  • The Stolen Jools (1931) – directed by William C. McGann – short
  • Night Nurse (1931) – directed by William A. Wellman
  • The Miracle Woman (1931) – directed by Frank Capra
  • 1932
  • Forbidden (1932) – directed by Frank Capra
  • Shopworn (1932) – directed by Nick Grinde
  • So Big! (1932) – directed by William A. Wellman
  • The Purchase Price (1932) – directed by William A. Wellman
  • The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933) – directed by Frank Capra
  • Ladies They Talk About (1933) – directed by Howard Bretherton & William Keighley
  • Baby Face (1933) – directed by Alfred E. Green
  • Ever in My Heart (1933) – directed by Archie Mayo
  • Gambling Lady (1934) – directed by Archie Mayo
  • A Lost Lady (1934) – directed by Alfred E. Green
  • The Secret Bride (1934) – directed by William Dieterle
  • The Woman in Red (1935) – directed by Robert Florey
  • Red Salute (1935) – directed by Sidney Lanfield
  • Annie Oakley (1935) – directed by George Stevens
  • 1936
  • A Message to Garcia (1936) – directed by George Marshall
  • The Bride Walks Out (1936) – directed by Leigh Jason
  • His Brother’s Wife (1936) – directed by W.S. Van Dyke
  • Banjo on My Knee (1936) – directed by John Cromwell
  • The Plough and the Stars (1936) – directed by John Ford
  • Internes Can’t Take Money (1937) – directed by Alfred Santell
  • This Is My Affair (1937) – directed by William A. Seiter
  • Stella Dallas (1937) – directed by King Vidor
  • Breakfast for Two (1937) – directed by Alfred Santell
  • Always Goodbye (1938) – directed by Sidney Lanfield
  • The Mad Miss Manton (1938) – directed by Leigh Jason
  • Union Pacific (1939) – directed by Cecil B. DeMille
  • Golden Boy (1939) – directed by Rouben Mamoulian
  • 1940
  • Remember the Night (1940) – directed by Mitchell Leisen
  • The Lady Eve (1941) – directed by Preston Sturges
  • Meet John Doe (1941) – directed by Frank Capra
  • You Belong to Me (1941) – directed by Wesley Ruggles
  • Ball of Fire (1941) – directed by Howard Hawks
  • The Great Man’s Lady (1942) – directed by William A. Wellman
  • The Gay Sisters (1942) – directed by Irving Rapper
  • Lady of Burlesque (1943) – directed by William A. Wellman
  • Flesh and Fantasy (1943) – directed by Julien Duvivier
  • Double Indemnity (1944) – directed by Billy Wilder
  • Hollywood Canteen (1944) – directed by Delmer Daves – cameo as herself
  • Christmas in Connecticut (1945) – directed by Peter Godfrey
  • Hollywood Victory Caravan (1945) – directed by William D. Russell (uncredited) – documentary short
  • My Reputation (1946) – directed by Curtis Bernhardt – filmed in 1944
  • The Bride Wore Boots (1946) – directed by Irving Pichel
  • The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) – directed by Lewis Milestone
  • California (1947) – directed by John Farrow
  • The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947) – directed by Peter Godfrey
  • The Other Love (1947) – directed André de Toth
  • Cry Wolf (1947) – directed by Peter Godfrey
  • Variety Girl (1947) – directed by George Marshall
  • B.F.’s Daughter (1948) – directed by Robert Z. Leonard
  • Sorry, Wrong Number (1948) – directed by Anatole Litvak
  • The Lady Gambles (1949) – directed by Michael Gordon
  • East Side, West Side (1949) – directed by Mervyn LeRoy
  • The File on Thelma Jordon (1950) – directed by Robert Siodmak
  • No Man of Her Own (1950) – directed by Mitchell Leisen
  • The Furies (1950) – directed by Anthony Mann
  • To Please a Lady (1950) – directed by Clarence Brown
  • The Man with a Cloak (1951) – directed by Fletcher Markle
  • Clash by Night (1952) – directed by Fritz Lang
  • Jeopardy (1953) – directed by John Sturges
  • Titanic (1953) – directed by Jean Negulesco
  • All I Desire (1953) – directed by Douglas Sirk
  • Blowing Wild (1953) – directed by Hugo Fregonese
  • The Moonlighter (1953) – directed by Roy Rowland – filmed in 3D
  • Witness to Murder (1954) – directed by Roy Rowland
  • Executive Suite (1954) – directed by Robert Wise
  • Cattle Queen of Montana (1954) – directed by Allan Dwan
  • The Violent Men (1955) – directed by Rudolph Maté
  • Escape to Burma (1955) – directed by Allan Dwan
  • There’s Always Tomorrow (1956) – directed by Douglas Sirk
  • The Maverick Queen (1956) – directed by Joseph Kane
  • These Wilder Years (1956) – directed by Roy Rowland
  • Crime of Passion (1957) – directed by Gerd Oswald
  • Trooper Hook (1957) – directed by Charles Marquis Warren
  • Forty Guns (1957) – directed by Samuel Fuller
  • Walk on the Wild Side (1962) – directed by Edward Dmytryk
  • Roustabout (1964) – directed by John Rich
  • The Night Walker (1964) – directed by William Castle
  • Calhoun: County Agent (1964) – directed by Stuart Rosenberg – TV movie – unaired pilot
  • The House That Would Not Die (1970) – directed by John Llewelyn Moxey – TV movie
  • A Taste of Evil (1971) – directed by John Llewelyn Moxey – TV movie
  • The Letters (1973) – directed by Paul Krasny & Gene Nelson – TV movie