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Stanwyck

Posted on

Stanwyck

type:
Book
Current Status:
In Season
author:
Axel Madsen, Barbara Stanwyck
genre:
Movies, Biography

We gave it a B

Stanwyck Axel Madsen The recent flap over Thelma & Louise illuminated the scarcity of self-assertive, take-charge women characters in movies these days. It wasn’t always that way. Barbara Stanwyck, born Ruby Stevens, was a Brooklyn orphan who broke into showbiz as a (sometimes topless) teen chorine, and in 1944 became the best-paid actress in the United States by playing ”throaty-voiced stand-up dames” — con artists, matriarchs, missionaries, murderers — in the films of golden-age Hollywood. Her friend Joan Crawford and her rival Bette Davis won the plum roles and the Oscars. Stanwyck won the respect of great directors — Frank Capra, Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges — for her cool professionalism, as well as a cult following among lesbians for her knowing, stylish independence on screen. Off screen, her life was a mess. Her first husband beat her; her second husband — matinee idol Robert Taylor — spent their wedding night with his mom. The conscientious bio Stanwyck by Axel Madsen never catches fire, and it won’t make you like the cold, lonely woman she became. But its 32 pages of photos will make you want to take another look at her best work: Stella Dallas, Double Indemnity, and The Lady Eve. B

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