BARBARA STANWYCK SIGNATURE COLLECTION
Article originally posted 2007
Warner / 5 disc set / Region 1 NTSC
Barbara Stanwyck, William Holden, Frederic March, George Brent, Clark Gable, Van Heflin, James Mason
Ruby Stevens (as Stanwyck was born) actually began her career as a member of the Ziegfield follies chorus line before graduating to stage parts. Without being a great actress Stanwyck proved throughout the late 30′s and forties to be one of the best in Hollywood, hard working and always reliable, equally at home in comedy or drama where she excelled in strong parts.
This excellent new 5 disc set from Warners in their Signature collection range gives us the opportunity to take a look at her versatility in 6 very different movies.
EXECUTIVE SUITE hails from 1953 and is the classic boardroom drama with an all star cast which besides Stanwyck includes William Holden, June Allyson, Frederic March and Walter Pigeon. Stanwyck plays the daughter of the head of a big company who has just died, whilst the members of the board are vying for control it looks like Stanwyck as major share holder, may be the key player in deciding how everything falls out. This ensemble drama is a superb piece of entertainment. Extras include an insightful commentary from Oliver Stone, a vintage Pete Smith comedy short called Out For Fun, a classic cartoon – Billy Boy and the original theatrical trailer.
ANNIE OAKLEY is a slice of western hokum from 1935 with Stanwyck playing the famed western girl Annie Oakley. The story concentrates on Oakley’s time with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show and her relationship with rival sharp shooter Preston Foster. Directed by the legendary George Stevens this is a great movie from the golden age of Hollywood, extras are the vintage musical short Main Street Follies and the classic cartoon Into Your Dance.
MY PEPUTATION from 1946 is a gorgeous melodrama featuring Stanwyck never looking more radiant. Set in suburban Lake Forest, Illinois, the story focuses on Stanwyck’s Jessica Drummond, a young widow who has fallen for army officer George Brent, but people are talking, saying it is too soon for her to be involved with another man. Actually quite a relevant piece of post war drama as there would have been lots of women in Jessica’s position whose husbands had died and who needed som stability back in their lives. A gem of a movie. Extras include a musical short that focuses on Jan Savitt and his band, a classic “toon” featuring Daffy Duck, the theatrical trailer and best of all 2 radio adaptations of the story, the first featuring Stanwyck and Brent, the second featuring Alexis Smith and Wayne Morris.
EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE is another classic, made in 1949, it has Stanwyck married to the caddish James Mason, who is embroiled in an all consuming affair with the alluring Ava Gardner. When Gardner is found murdered it looks like Stanwyck is prime suspect, luckily for her though she has Van Heflin as a well connected FBI agent to save the day and offer a shoulder to cry on. A melodrama of the highest order, a top cast too! Extras are a short called Stuff for Stuff from The Passing Parade series and a classic toon called Counterfeit Cat. There is also the original theatrical trailer.
Finally theres a double bill of movies, the great fun that is the racing car set TO PLEASE A LADY that co-stars Clark Gable and focuses on the relationship between journalist Stanwyck and race car driver Gable – building up to a race at the famed Indianapolis 500; JEOPARDY is a thrillerish tinged drama in which Barry Sullivan plays the husband whose fall through a rotted pier leaves him trapped. Stanwyck is the wife who rushes to get help only to fall into the clutches of an escaped convict. Extras feature a radio adaptation of Jeopardy featuring most of the movie cast and the theatrical trailer.
Another brilliant collection of movies from Warner-Turner, guaranteed to keep any vintage movie fan happy.