Classic Beauty: Barbara Stanwyck

Never a great beauty, Barbara Stanwyck made up for it in spades by having the smart, no-nonsense sexuality that was capable of driving men insane — and not just on the screen.  (Gary Cooper is reputed to have described acting with her as like acting with a tiger:  you were never quite sure what she was going to do next, but if you were lucky, you wouldn’t end up being eaten alive.)  And here she is (often, alas, a victim of the Bad Hairstyle Syndrome of the era):

And yes, back in her youth…



  1. 2 must sees:

    “Double Indemnity” 1944
    mrrrowww, Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray, yeah, THAT guy.
    If you like noir this one will knock your ass out.
    Edward G Robinson’s monolog on actuarial tables alone is woth the ticket cost.

    “Crime of Passion” 1956
    whoa, Stanwyck and Sterling Hayden in sort of a role reversal for both. Again, noir at it’s finest. Pay attention to the switch-a-roo.

  2. ghost is correct, of course, about Double Indemnity. Watching her slink down the staircase, you knew Fred was a goner. I have bot seen Crime of Passion, but I love Sterling Hayden. He may have been a statue, but he had tremendous prescence.

  3. On of my very good friends is in his late 80’s now, he was going through Artillery Officers training in the mid 1950’s at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and he loved telling the story about going to the movies on post and watching Stanwyck (I am sure I remember it was Stanwyck in the story) when she shoots and kills a man with a semi-automatic and her companion says, you know what we have to do now?

    A loud voice from the audience yelled out, “Yep, time police up the brass!” and the whole place erupted in laughter.

  4. Noir is not all she did.

    Every other year or so I watch “Christmas in Connecticut”, a great Christmas ensemble romantic comedy set during WWII..

    Dennis Morgan, S.Z. Sakall, Sydney Greenstreet, Una O’Conner, Dick Elliott. Character actors who could be relied on to step into a role and get the job done.

    1. Found the DVD on amazon for $8.99 and will include it in our Christmas line up this year. Thanks!

  5. “Never a great beauty…” As a kid, I used to work as a (furniture) mover for an antiques/estate dealer. I learned a number of quotable quotes; one which has stuck with me over the past 65 years: “One man’s throw-away is another man’s treasure; learn to see through the second man’s eyes.”
    Fer sure Barbara Stanwyck’s no Marilyn Monroe: Thank G-d!

  6. My Dad,, who was born in ’03 and was a working musician from about 18, once told me that almost all of the early true beauty actresses started very young and did whatever they had to do when they were young unknowns. The Ziegfeld Follies was one of those “whatevers”… .

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