Thursday, December 6, 2012

Star of the Month: Barbara Stanwyck.

So Big (1932). A drama film directed by William A. Wellman. The screenplay by J. Grubb Alexander and Robert Lord is based on the 1924 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same title by Edna Ferber. The film is the second screen adaptation of the Ferber novel, following a 1924 silent version directed by Charles Brabin.

After the death of her mother, Selina Peake and her father move to Chicago, where she enrolls in finishing school. Her father is killed, soon after and Selina's friend Julie Hemple helps her find a job as a schoolteacher. Selina, moves in with the Poole family and tutors their son Roelf.

Selina, eventually marries a farmer and gives birth to a son named Dirk, nicknamed "So Big".

After her husband dies, Selina barely can keep the farm going to pay for Dirk's education, hoping he will become a great architect. Dirk becomes involved with a married woman, who gives him a job as a bond salesman in her husband's firm.

Eventually, he meets and falls in love with artist Dallas O'Mara, but she refuses to marry him because of his lazyness. Roelf, now a famous sculptor, meets Dirk and, learning Selina is his mother, goes to see her. She is very proud of Roelf's success even though her own son had disappointed her.

Bette Davis, cast in the small role of Dallas O'Mara. She filmed So Big! simultaneously with, The Rich Are Always with Us. Following.. The Man Who Played God, it was her second film for Warner Bros., and the first in which she performed with George Brent, who co-starred with her in eleven more films. Davis considered her casting in a Barbara Stanwyck film a sign Jack L. Warner was acknowledging her value to the studio.

The Bitter Tea of General Yen(1932). Megan Davis, a young American, arrives in Shanghai during the Chinese Civil War in order to marry a missionary. She is separated from her fiancee and rescued by General Yen.

At his palace, she defends Mah-Li, Yen's mistress, who is suspected of giving secrets to the enemy. Kind hearted Megan, comes to Mah-Li defense saving her life. Yen knows that Mah-Li will never change, but, for his growing love for Megan, agrees. Mah-Li does betray him, and he is ruined.
Please click here to read movie review.

Baby Face (1933). Dramatic film directed by Alfred E. Green, and starring Barbara Stanwyck and George Brent. Based on a story by Darryl F. Zanuck (under the pseudonym Mark Canfield), this Pre-Code film is about a young woman who uses sex to advance her social and financial status. Marketed with tag line, "She had it and made it pay", the film was one of the most notorious films of the Pre-Code era.
Please click here for movie review.

Golden Boy (1939). A black-and-white Columbia Pictures drama film based on the Clifford Odets play of the same name. It features William Holden in his film debut and the role that made him a star: a promising violinist who wants to be a boxer. Barbara Stanwyck plays his love interest.

The producers were initially unhappy with Holden's work, and tried to fire him, but Stanwyck insisted that he play the part. Thirty-nine years later, when Holden and Stanwyck were joint presenters at the 1977 Academy Awards, he interrupted their reading of a nominee list to publicly thank her for saving his career.
Please click here to read movie review.

Meet John Doe (1941). A comedy drama film directed and produced by Frank Capra, and starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck. The film is about a political campaign created by a newspaper columnist and pursued by a wealthy businessman. It became a box office hit and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Story. Please click here for movie review.

Executive Suite (1954). A Drama film showing the transfer of power in a corporation in trouble. The film stars William Holden, Barbara Stanwyck, Fredric March, and Walter Pidgeon. It was directed by Robert Wise and produced by John Houseman from a screenplay by Ernest Lehman based on the novel of the same name by Cameron Hawley. The cinematography was by George J. Folsey and the costume design by Helen Rose. It is one of the few Hollywood films with no music score. Please click here for movie review.


  1. This is why Babs was such a great actress: versatility. Of the ones listed above, my recommendation is Meet John Doe (though all are pretty good, sans Baby Face, but even that is highly entertaining because of her raw sexuality).

  2. I really did not care much for the classic film, So Big.

    I really enjoyed all of the other Babs films, but... The Bitter Tea of General Yen and Baby Face. Are my favorite's from this TCM's list of today's Bab's films.


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