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Barbara Stanwyck: The Miracle Woman (Hollywood Legends Series) Hardcover – February 3, 2012
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"[Callahan's] critical analyses of her performances are not, thankfully, uncommitted, academic regurgitations of what others have written, but highly observant, passionately written considerations of her artistry… his biography proves once again that all great artists begin with life as it is lived, and it is to the author's credit as a biographer that we are made more aware of Barbara Stanwyck's ferocious determination to look at life honestly."
--Charles Bogle, wsws.org
"Callahan builds a compelling personal narrative out of her contradictions: her bootstrapping tough-broad self-sufficiency (this slum kid was a rabid Ayn Rand fan and loved her Westerns best of all), her self-effacing, almost masochistic love life, and her radical spontaneity on-screen."
--Mark Asch, The L Magazine
"Barbara Stanwyck was better than Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn. That's the bold contention of Dan Callahan's well-written Barbara Stanwyck: The Miracle Woman."
--Michael Musto, The Village Voice
"Callahan soars when he takes aim at Stanwyck's acting and films, so much so that The Miracle Woman's primary value may be as a friendly reference book to pull off the shelf every time you see a Stanwyck picture and wish to hear an erudite, witty voice offer much more than two cents… Callahan writes of her with the ever-present respect one shows a great artist, and The Miracle Woman is brimming with penetrating observations…[his] writing is often humorously piquant, hitting the reader like a lime spritz in a margarita."
--Matthew Kennedy, The Bay Area Reporter
"Anyone with a love for classic film history will find much to love and appreciate about this book."
--Wide Screen World
"Ideal for Stanwyck fans (so, everybody) and any cinephile who takes acting seriously."
--Self Styled Siren
"An impassioned biography. Film scholar Dan Callahan [focuses] on what really interests him about his subject: not Tinseltown gossip, but what Stanwyck accomplished on screen… Callahan's enthusiasm informs every page."
--Dennis Drabelle, The Washington Post
"If Mr. Callahan's book is not the last word on this great actress, it will certainly stand as an invaluable critical guide. It's a book that would have initially embarrassed its subject, if only because she would be uneasy about any book about herself. And then, as she thought about it, and maybe reread it, she would be just a little flattered, then, finally, pleased. And she would be right, as usual."
--Scott Eyman, The Wall Street Journal
"The arrival of this critical biography is an opportunity to marvel at the pure cumulative accomplishment of Barbara Stanwyck's career…Callahan epigrammatically notes the eternal human truths within Stanwyck's performances."
--Nick Pinkerton, Sight and Sound
"Callahan's valuable reclamation project is a beautiful tribute to an actress celebrated for her naturalism…his assessments, both positive and negative, are always sensitively rendered, and he's keenly alert to the nuances he so treasures in her work….Callahan not only gives Stanwyck her due, he may have you soon placing her above Kate or Bette as the foremost First Lady of the Screen."
--John Dileo, Screen Savers
"Mr. Callahan could be the best writer on film acting, certainly the best that I know of. As word gets around about his excellent new book, Barbara Stanwyck: The Miracle Woman I think most cinephiles will agree with me."
"Long overdue and full of insight, a thorough, heartfelt, and beautifully researched account of the neglected career of one of the greatest stars in movie history."
--James Harvey, author of Romantic Comedy in Hollywood and Movie Love in the Fifties
"From the sublime (The Lady Eve and Double Indemnity) to the outrageous (Forty Guns--'She's a high-ridin' woman with a whip!'), the workaday (The Woman in Red) to the why'd-she-make-it bizarre (Red Salute), Barbara Stanwyck possessed extraordinary range and a screen persona that was both tough and tender. Dan Callahan's marvelously detailed book brings this nimble, legendary star and her long, astonishingly varied career to radiant life."
--Ed Sikov, author of On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder; Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis; and others
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Top Customer Reviews
I have several problems with this book.
The first is that I thought the book would deal with her life- it really doesn't. Instead, the book reads like an extended movie review, and it treats her movies unequally. I always wondered why Barbara made "Lady of Burlesque," because it's a dismal movie that almost makes you want to take a bath to rinse it off after you see it. It's covered in less than a page and the author imparts nothing new about it. Yet he spends pages dissecting other movies that are hard to find or out of print.
Another problem is his blatant use of profanity throughout. I'm not a prude, but the "F" word is not appropriate for a biography, unless it is uttered by one of the subjects. There are other examples of his use of off-color language and similies that involve sexual acts. The author laments the fact that most people his age do not know of Barbara Stanwyck, but this is not a book I would use to introduce her to anyone.
The final problem I have with the book is that in many spots it's simply boring. I'm not going to go as far as some other reviewers and say that the author is full of himself and that his points are invalid. The problem is that he seems to read all kinds of import into simple gestures and facial expressions. You get to the point where you just want the book to end, and I'm afraid many people will never finish it.
I wish there was a "good" Barbara Stanwyck biography I could recommend, but sadly, we're still waiting.
There is virtually nothing here about the woman's private life, her times, her loves, her personality. It is dreadfully written, horribly reported, poorly thought out, a boring trek through pieces of scenes to please the author's ego. Don't say I didn't warn you.
I recall a biography (is this supposed to be a biography??) I read several years ago about U.S. Grant. The author got out of the way and just told the story of Grant and by the end I felt like I had never known a thing about him. No tiresome judgement. No endless repetition of a tired idea. Just a well-written tour of a fascinating life.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great actress and interesting lady and didn't take crap from anyone. She was her own woman. Well written and easy to read.Published 7 months ago by Lydia C. Bugner
A tedious read. One obscure author's opinions on a Hollywood legend does not constitute the necessity for a book. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Library Systems
I think it's very unfortunate that so many readers gave this book a bad review simply based on what they expected or wanted it to be. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jim in SF
Intesesting book. I have read bits and pieces of this book. But very informative.Published 17 months ago by Barbara Bryant
While parts of this biography were informative and enjoyable, the author clearly wrote with an agenda. Read morePublished on January 16, 2014 by kaykan
The work here is similar to other works written on Stanwyck but more detail oriented. It is unique in it's handling. Read morePublished on November 21, 2013 by Sandy P.
I enjoy biographies but this is not one of them. This sheds no light on Miss Stanwyck's life-it is however a great review of her films. Read morePublished on September 8, 2013 by C R CA
Dan Callahan has nothing but respect for the artistic genius of Barbara Stanwyck - but he also has compassion for the woman behind the work. Read morePublished on July 26, 2013 by Jeremy Shatan