For those of a younger generation the name Barbara Stanwyck would most likely draw looks of befuddlement. Alas, to most Commonweal readers it probably evokes fond recollections.
In the current NewYorker, Anthony Lane, with his usual elegant insight, celebrates the late film star.
The piece makes for wonderful rainy-day reading. Here’s a morsel to entice:
To suggest that Stanwyck never belonged in the first rank of screen
beauties would be ungallant but true. To argue, however, that she
lacked a ready supply of male victims would be demonstrable nonsense.
She had cheekbones of a wicked cut and curve, archable eyebrows, and a
nose whose beaky hauteur came in handy when she rose to playing the
loftier classes, or, as in “The Lady Eve” (1941), slicing them to
shreds. It was a face that launched a thousand inquisitions: the mouth
too tight to be rosy, and a voice pitched for slang, all bite and
huskiness. When I think of the glory days of American film, at its
speediest and most velvety, I think of Barbara Stanwyck.