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06 December 2012

Babs from Brooklyn: December's Star of the Month on TCM

Name at birth
Ruby Catherine Stevens
Professional Name
Barbara Stanwyck

"I couldn't remember my name for weeks. I'd be at the theatre and hear them calling, "Miss Stanwyck, Miss Stanwyck," and I'd think, "Where is that dame? Why doesn't she answer? By crickie, it's me!""

"Babs from Brooklyn"
"The Queen"

Stanwyck as a Ziegfeld Follies
chorus girl (c. 1924)
Orphaned at age four, Ruby was raised by her show biz sister in Brooklyn, New York. She left school at 14 to work in a number of odd jobs before entering the business herself. In 1924 she became a chorus girl in the famous Ziegfeld Follies. She worked on Broadway for a few years before moving out to Hollywood with her first husband in 1928.

"I'm a tough old broad from Brooklyn. I intend to go on acting until I'm ninety and they won't need to paste my face with makeup."
"I want to go on until they have to shoot me." 
with Robert Taylor
When Ruby's fiancĂ© died unexpectedly in 1928, she became close with her Burlesque co-star Frank Fay, whom she married and with whom she adopted a son. However, the couple were divorced in 1935 and Stanwyck obtained custody of their son. In 1939 she married her HIS BROTHER'S WIFE (1936) co-star Robert Taylor. Although the couple divorced in 1950, they remained friends and neither of them remarried.
"It's perhaps not the future I would choose. I still think it's possible to make a success of both marriage and career, even though I didn't. But it's not a bad future. And I'm not afraid of it."

Conservative Republican. A great supporter of Ayn Rand's pro-capitalist, laissez-faire political viewpoint. Also a member of the radically right-wing anti-Communist group The Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals.

Career Span
103 films/TV shows, 1927-1986
 "Eyes are the greatest tool in film. Mr. Capra taught me that. Sure, it's nice to say very good dialogue, if you can get it. But great movie acting - watch the eyes!"
"Egotism: usually just a case of mistaken nonentity."
Barbara Stanwyck Essential Films

Director: King Vidor
Writers: Olive HIggins Prouty (novel), Sarah Y. Mason and Victor Heerman (screenplay)
Co-stars: John Boles, Anne Shirley, Alan Hale, Marjorie Main
Genre: drama, romance
Synopsis: Working-class Stella Martin (Stanwyck) marries wealthy Stephen Dallas (John Boles) and they have a daughter Laurel (Anne Shirley). When the couple separates, Stella makes the ultimate sacrifice in order to see that her daughter is able to get the best advantages life has to offer.
*Barbara Stanwyck and Anne Shirley were both nominated for Oscars for their roles in the film.

Director: Billy Wilder
Writers: James M. Cain (novel), Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler (screenplay)
Co-stars: Fred MacMurray, Edward G. Robinson
Genre: crime, drama, film noir, thriller
Synopsis: An insurance salesman falls in love with the wife of one of his clients and they have an affair. The couple then plots the murder of her husband so they can collect his life insurance and begin a new life together.
Walter (MacMurray): "I was thinking about that dame upstairs, and the way she had looked at me, and I wanted to see her again, close, without that silly staircase between us."
Director: Anatole Litvak
Writers: Lucille Fletcher
Co-star: Burt Lancaster
Genre: drama, film noir, thriller
Synopsis: While confined to her sickbed, an invalid hypochondriac believes she has overheard a plot to murder her over the telephone.
PROLOGUE: "In the tangled networks of a great city, the telephone is the unseen link between a million lives. It is the servant of our common needs. The confidante of our inmost secrets. Life and happiness wait upon its ring... and horror... and loneliness... and DEATH!"
TITANIC (1953)
Director: Jean Negulesco
Writers: Charles Brackett, Walter Reisch, Richard L. Breen
Co-stars: Clifton Webb, Robert Wagner, Thelma Ritter, Brian Aherne, Merry Anders
Genre: drama, history, romance
Synopsis: A troubled married couple and their children sail for America on the most infamous sea crossing in history.

"The night we were making the scene of the dying ship in the outdoor tank at Twentieth, it was bitter cold. I was 47 feet up in the air in a lifeboat swinging on the davits. The water below was agitated into a heavy rolling mass and it was thick with other lifeboats full of women and children. I looked down and thought, 'If one of these ropes snaps now, it's goodbye for you.' Then I looked up at the faces lined along the rail - those left behind to die with the ship. I thought of the men and women who had been through this thing in our time. We were re-creating an actual tragedy and I burst into tears. I shook with great racking sobs and couldn't stop."

Margaret's Favorites
Director: Howard Hawks
Writers: Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, Thomas Monroe
Co-stars: Gary Cooper, Oskar Homolka, Henry Travers, S.Z. Sakall, Dana Andrews, Gene Krupa and His Orchestra
Genre: comedy, romance
Synopsis: A nightclub singer moves in with seven professors working on an encyclopaedia while she hides out from the cops. What she doesn't wager on is falling in love with the youngest brain, who employs her assistance for his article about American slang.

Director: Peter Godfrey
Writers: Aileen Hamilton (story), Lionel Houser and Adele Comandini (screenplay)
Co-stars: Sydney Greenstreet, S.Z. Sakall, Una O'Connor, Dennis Morgan
Genre: comedy, romance, CHRISTMAS!!!
Synopsis: Although single New York journalist Elizabeth Lane doesn't even know how to boil an egg, when her editor invites a heroic sailor to spend Christmas at her "farm," she must recreate the fiction she has established in her "Smart Housekeeping" column - that she is an excellent cook, wife, mother, and housekeeper.
"Where am I gonna get a farm? I haven't even got a window box!"
Director: Preston Sturges
Writers: Monckton Hoffe (story), Preston Sturges
Co-stars: Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn
Genre: comedy, romance
Synopsis: After spending a year studying snakes in the Amazon, wealthy Charles Pike unintentionally falls in love with con-artist Jean Harrington on his boat back home.

"You see, Hopsi, you don't know very much about girls. The best ones aren't as good as you probably think they are and the bad ones aren't as bad. Not nearly as bad."

Director: Frank Capra
Writers: Richard Connell and Robert Presnell (story), Robert Riskin (screenplay)
Co-stars: Gary Cooper, Edward Arnold, Walter Brenna, Spring Byington, James Gleason, Gene Lockhart
Genre: comedy, drama, romance
Synopsis: Reporter Ann Mitchell (Stanwyck) writes a fictional letter after she is fired from a fictional John Doe who threatens to commit suicide in protest of social ills. The paper rehires her and employs a man to play out the John Doe character for the public, starting a radical political movement.
"The John Doe movement isn't dead yet. You see, John, it isn't dead or they wouldn't be here. It's alive in them. It'll grow, John, and it'll grow big because it'll be honest this time. Oh, John, if it's worth dying for, it's worth living for. Well, you don't have to die to keep the John Doe ideal alive. Someone already died for that once. The first John Doe. And he's kept it alive for nearly 2,000 years. It was He who kept it alive in them. And He'll go on keeping it alive for ever and always - for every John Doe movement these men kill, a new one will be born. That's why those bells are ringing, John. They're calling to us, not to give up but to keep on fighting, to keep on pitching. Oh, don't you see, darling? This is no time to give up. Oh, no, no, John. If you die, I want to die too. Oh, oh, I love you."
Still on my watchlist
Director: William A. Wellman
Writers: Grace Perkins (novel), Olver H.P. Garrett
Co-stars: Ben Lyon, Joan Blondell, Clark Gable
Genre: crime, drama, mystery, thriller
Synopsis: Trainee nurse runs into opposition when she uncovers a sinister plot to murder of two little girls in her care at he hospital.

"Oh ethics, ethics, ethics! That's all I've heard. Isn't there any ethics about letting poor little babies be murdered?"

Director: Frank Capra
Writers: Grace Zaring Stone (story), Edward E. Paramore, Jr. (screenplay)
Co-stars: Nils Asther, Toshia Mori, Walter Connolly
Genre: drama, romance, war
Synopsis: When an American missionary travels to China during the Chinese Civil War to marry her fiance and fellow-missionary, the two are separated in the midst of the violence and she is taken to the palace of the general. She becomes embroiled in palace scandal and intrigue, ultimately siding with the general as he nobly faces his doom.

"You can always do so much more with mercy than you can with murder."

Director: George Stevens
Writers: Joseph Fields and Edwart Adamson (story), Joel Sayre and John Twist (screenplay)
Co-stars: Preston Foster, Melvyn Douglas, Chief Thunderbird, Margaret Armstrong
Genre: biography, drama, Western
Synopsis: When sharpshooter Annie Oakley is hired for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, she becomes attached to fellow showman Toby Walker. However, the couple's relationship suffers as she becomes more and more popular, ultimately winning top billing.

Director: William A. Wellman
Writers: Gypsy Rose Lee (novel), James Gunn
Co-stars: Michael O'Shea, Iris Adrian, Charles Dingle
Genre: comedy, music, mystery, romance
Synopsis: When a burlesque performer's rivals are murdered, she hunts down their killer so as to prevent herself, the prime suspect, from being arrested for a crime she didn't commit.

Turner Classic Movies will be showing Barbara Stanwyck movies every Wednesday night in December. For the full schedule of Stanwyck feature films and documentaries, visit the TCM website or consult your Now Playing guide.


  1. I love Barabara Stanwyck, my favs are the same as yours. But I also have a soft spot for 'The Gay Sisters', which is a childhood fav.

    1. I haven't seen that one - I'll have to look it up. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Very nice way to show someone's biography! I loved how you added the quotes.
    I'm becoming moe and more a Missy fan. I have Ball of Fire downloaded and intend to watch it soon. She is a great actress and I really want to watch more films with her. Oh, and there will be a Lady Eve posto n my blog soon!

    1. Thanks Le! BALL OF FIRE is one of my all-time favorites. I hope you enjoy it!


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