The Barbara Stanwyck Collection: (Internes Can't Take Money / The Great Man's Lady / The Bride Wore Boots / The Lady Gambles / All I Desire / and more)
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Known for her passionate performances, Barbara Stanwyck was one of the brightest stars to ever grace the silver screen. Equally captivating in heavy dramas (Sorry, Wrong Number), lighthearted comedies (The Lady Eve), and dark film noirs (Double Indemnity), she is considered one of the best among Hollywood’s leading ladies. This collection of 6 rare films includes Internes Can’t Take Money, The Great Man’s Lady, The Bride Wore Boots, The Lady Gambles, All I Desire and There’s Always Tomorrow. Featuring co-stars such as Joel McCrea, Fred MacMurray and Robert Preston, The Barbara Stanwyck Collection is a glimpse into the career of one of cinema’s most enduring screen legends. Internes Can't Take Money (1937) Bullets fly and tensions rise when a desperate woman (Barbara Stanwyck) must turn to Dr. Kildare (Joel McCrea) for help getting her child back from gangsters. The Great Man's Lady (1942) A reflective 100-year-old woman (Barbara Stanwyck) looks back on her life and how her extraordinary sacrifice helped her husband (Joel McCrea) become one of the nation’s greatest men. The Bride Wore Boots (1946) It’s a comedy of errors when a bookish husband (Robert Cummings) tries to win back the affections of his horse-breeding wife (Barbara Stanwyck). The Lady Gambles (1949) When novice gambler Joan Booth (Barbara Stanwyck) bets it all – and loses – she is thrust into a downward spiral from which only her devoted husband (Robert Preston) can save her. All I Desire (1953) New scandals erupt and old ones resurface when an aging stage actress (Barbara Stanwyck) returns to her small hometown and the family she abandoned ten years earlier. There's Always Tomorrow (1956) In this romantic tale of passion, an unlucky-in-love fashion designer (Barbara Stanwyck) must decide if she should succumb to her feelings for a married man (Fred MacMurray).
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"Internes Can't Take Money" (Paramount, 1937), earned its place in cinema history as the first film featuring the popular character of Dr. Kildare. Here he's played by frequent Stanwyck leading man Joel McCrea. This film was released a year before MGM launched its popular series starring Lew Ayres, and features Stanwyck as a mother whose young daughter has been kidnapped by a gang of crooks. In truth, the drama is rather tepid, but Stanwyck and McCrea play off each other well, and the supporting cast includes such stalwarts as Lloyd Nolan, Stanley Ridges, and Lee Bowman. At 77 minutes, it zips right along and is worth a look-see.
Stanwyck had high hopes for "The Great Man's Lady" (Paramount, 1942), directed by William A. Wellman, with whom she had collaborated a decade before ("Night Nurse", 1931 and "The Purchase Price", 1932) at Warner Brothers. Its failure to catch on with the critics or the public certainly had nothing to do with her performance. She plays "the wind beneath the wings" of Joel McCrea, a pioneer turned oil man and politician whose successes are directly attributable to her "behind the scenes" efforts on his behalf. Stanwyck's character ages from a teenager to a hundred year old woman in this fascinating Western saga which features an outstanding supporting performance by Brian Donlevy. The film crowds a lot of action into 90 minutes, and perhaps that's its main weakness; such an expansive story might have benefitted from the kind of pacing and detail that Cecil B. DeMille might have provided.
"The Bride Wore Boots" (Paramount , 1946) is one of Stanwyck's weaker comedies, certainly not in the same class as delights like "The Lady Eve", "Remember the Night", or "Ball of Fire". Sadly, although she continued to star in feature films for another 11 years, it proved to be Missy's last screen comedy. Here she plays an accomplished equestrian whose husband (Bob Cummings) hates horses. The script is, to be kind, witless and a competent cast including Diana Lynn, the acerbic Robert Benchley and young Natalie Wood are generally wasted. Still, "The Bride Wore Boots" has never before been available on home video, and is rarely shown on TV, so Stanwyck completists and die hard fans (like me) will be pleased to finally add this one to their collections.
Stanwyck gives a superb performance in the much-underrated "The Lady Gambles" (Universal, 1949). She plays an average woman whose obsession with betting destroys her relationship with her husband (Robert Preston) and leads her down the road toward destitution and finally, suicide. That she is able to make such a self-destructive character both sympathetic and repellant is a tribute to Stanwyck's amazing acting prowess. The supporting cast, which includes Stephen McNally, Edith Barrett, cult favorite John Hoyt, and (in a small walk-on role) Tony Curtis, is uniformly excellent ... but this movie belongs to Stanwyck. Also new to home video!
"All I Desire" (Universal, 1953) is a superior soap opera directed by one of the masters of the genre, Douglas Sirk. Set in the early 1900's, Stanwyck plays a frustrated and unfaithful wife who had abandoned her family in their small hometown a decade before to pursue a career in the theatre. Now she's been invited back to watch her middle child perform in a high school play. Her attempts to reconcile with her husband (Richard Carlson) and children are complicated by the continuing enticements of her former lover (Lyle Bettger) and her husband's budding interest in a local teacher (Maureen O'Sullivan). Beautifully acted, this modestly budgeted film is played very low-key and holds up under repeated viewings.
Sirk also directed "There's Always Tomorrow" (Universal, 1956) which re-teams Stanwyck with her frequent co-star, Fred MacMurray. MacMurray plays a neglected husband and father who rekindles an old romance with a charming and attentive former flame (Stanwyck). His older children interfere in their relationship, and the lovers are forced to decide what is right for everyone involved. The marvelous cast includes beautiful Joan Bennett as the wife, as well as talents like Jane Darwell and Pat Crowley in supporting roles. This film could easily have descended into turgid melodrama in less capable hands, but Sirk's sensitive direction and Stanwyck's beautifully modulated performance lift it out of the realm of the ordinary. Another welcome newcomer to home video!
The extras included in this set are rather sparse, including only trailers for some of the films, but that quibble is negated by the fact that these genuinely "rare" films have been long sought by many Stanwyck fans, who can now enjoy them after years of waiting. Thank you, Universal Home Video!
THE GREAT MAN`S LADY: no need to pop the popcorn for this one. There`s enough corn here for everybody.
THE BRIDE WORE BOOTS: A rather silly and predictable comedy with a few horse laughs.
THE LADY GAMBLES: This was the best of the bunch holding your interest to the last frame, although not a very realistic depiction of gambling addiction.
ALL I DESIRE: Pure predictable melodrama about a woman who abandons her family for a stage career but then returns years later.
THERE`S ALWAYS TOMORROW: An often done story of a single woman falling for a married man as in (STRANGERS WHEN WE MEET).
NONE WERE UP TO STANWYCK`S GREATS: SORRY WRONG NUMBER, THE LADY EVE, DOUBLE INDEMNITY, CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT, GOLDEN BOY ETC. ETC. ETC.
All of the films are wonderfully restored and the presentation of the box set is visibly enticing.
This set will go great with any classic film collection!
If you care, beware.