“Put me in the last fifteen minutes of a picture and I don’t care what happened before... I’ll take it in those fifteen minutes”
Born Ruby Stevens in working-class Brooklyn, Barbara Stanwyck had various menial jobs before proceeding, via dancing in nightclubs and on Broadway, to the silver screen and stardom.
Often, her roles echoed her origins on the ‘wrong side of the tracks’; they also tended to reflect her own strength of will, independence and cool intelligence. This distinctive combination might manifest itself in a go-getter, working woman, loving mother or – after the success of Double Indemnity – a manipulative femme fatale. Mostly, however, the Stanwyck persona was far from heartless; native intuition complemented a sensitive, even passionate soul. Unsurprising, then, that she worked in many genres and with many major directors.
BFI programmer Geoff Andrew
Currently the subject of a two-month celebration at BFI Southbank, browse our selection of classic Barabara Stanwyck titles here.