A hundred years of Barbara Stanwyck

Monday (July 16) is the centenary of the birth of Ruby Stevens - Barbara Stanwyck to you. This is a list of my top ten Barbara Stanwyck films of all time, in chronological order:

  1. The Miracle Woman (1931): An early Frank Capra film with Stanwyck as a fiery female evangelist.
  2. The Mad Miss Manton (1938): Not a major film, but a favourite screwball comedy co-starring Henry Fonda.
  3. Union Pacific (1939): Can't resist this Cecil B.De Mille western epic.
  4. The Lady Eve (1940): She made some great screwball comedies around this time, this one with the greatest screwball director of all, Preston Sturges (and co-starring Henry Fonda again).
  5. Meet John Doe (1941): Stanwyck, Capra, and Cooper Dooper, a charming film.
  6. Ball of Fire (1941): Gary Cooper was a tad miscast as a bookish professor in this one, but Stanwyck was great yet again.
  7. Double Indemnity (1944): Billy Wilder's film of Raymond Chandler's murder mystery (to understate things enormously) is one of the best films noir ever made, and in my view the best of the ten films on this list.
  8. Christmas in Connecticut (1945): I like this film, which I saw for the first time about ten years ago and is a real charmer. One of my favourite secular Christmas films (and that's another list for another time).
  9. Sorry, Wrong Number (1948): Classic thriller, back in the good old days when Less Was More on film.
  10. The Thorn Birds (1983): OK, raise those eyebrows, but Babs was as delightful as Richard Chamberlain wasn't in the miniseries of Our Col's magnum opus.

Stella Dallas and Golden Boy are among the more notable films that missed out, and I was really hoping for a way to squeeze Roustabout into the list, her only collaboration with Elvis Presley. And, of course, there's also The Big Valley.