As the month of December comes to a close, now is the time for me to list my favorite Barbara Stanwyck films, or essentials if you will, that showcase Babs at her very best. I have enjoyed posting about Barbara all month long as she has been on my favorite classic movie goddesses. So without delay, here we go.
CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT (1945) This is not only my favorite Babs movie, but my favorite Christmas movie as well. She is awesome as Elizabeth Lane, a food columnist who is no Martha Stewart, but a fake. She is asked by her magazine's owner to entertain a returning soldier with a home cooked meal and to show off her home-making abilities. This is a great comedic showcase for Stanwyck and she doesn't disappoint. Plus she looks stunning in every scene.
THE LADY EVE (1941) One of Preston Sturges best screwball comedies ever. Barb is perfect as a glamorous cardshark who sets her sights on wealthy Henry Fonda. Mistaken identity and comical situations ensue. Great stuff.
DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944) Babs is hot to trot as sexy housewife Phyllis Dietrichson, who ensnares insurance agent Fred MacMurray into murdering her husband. Terrific film noir and Stanwyck gets to show that she still knows how to make these potboiler of a movie, like she used to do back in the 30's. Solid direction by Billy Wilder.
GOLDEN BOY (1939) This is more of a showcase for newcomer William Holden as a young man torned between boxing and music. But Babs is pretty good too as the woman he falls for. More of a drama than a boxing film, Golden Boy introduces the world to Holden and shows Stanwyck how easy it is for her to display her legendary acting talents.
STELLA DALLAS (1937) When you think of supreme tearjerkers, a few come to mind like Dark Victory and Imitation Of Life. Add Stella Dallas to that list as Babs gives an Oscar nominated performance as a mother who sacrifices everything for her daughter. Babs should have won the Oscar that year.
BABY FACE (1933) Babs is a young woman uses her body and her sexuality to help her climb the social ladder, but soon begins to wonder if her new status will ever bring her happiness. One of Stanwyck's earliest roles and it's a showstopper. And Baby Face was one of the more racier films released during this time period with Babs at her most sexiest.
BALL OF FIRE (1941) Babs is a hoot as singer Sugarpuss O'Shea who hides out with Professor Bertram Potts (Gary Cooper) and his colleagues from her mobster boyfriend. Another great role for Babs as she gets to sing and dance and just be awesome.
THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS (1946) One of my personal favorites and one of the best casts in film history with Babs leading the way as ruthless Martha Ivers who pretty much runs the town she lives in with her husband (introducing Kirk Douglas). The problem arises when her ex-boyfriend (Van Heflin) shows up to stir things up. That is when he's not romancing Lizabeth Scott. Martha Ivers is a great film that not too many people have seen. You have to check it out if you're one of them.
SORRY, WRONG NUMBER (1948) One of Babs later roles shows her portraying an invalid woman who overhears what she thinks is a plot to murder her. Babs is riveting in this exciting thriller, co-starring Burt Lancaster.
REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940) Another Christmas classic with Babs as shoplifter Lee Leander, who falls in love with her prosecutor (Fred MacMurray) while bonding over the Christmas holidays. Just compare Stanwyck and MacMurray 4 years later when they teamed up again for Double Indemnity. Talk about range.
So, there you have it, ten of Babs best and my favorites. Honorable mentions to Meet John Doe (1941), Union Pacific (1939), The Mad Miss Manton (1938), and Executive Suite (1954) with her and William Holden reuniting after Golden Boy.