Barbara Stanwyck, The Lady Eve
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Sunday, October 16, 2005
"So much of [Barbara Stanwyck's] character lay in the destance between the real and the professional names. If "Barbara Stanwyck" was the woman of the world, sophisticated, ruthless, and a fierce careerist, the lady generally smothering the moll in herself, then "Ruby Stevens" was the girl from the wrong side of the tracks, hard outside and soft inside, generous but ambitious: the girl in burlesque who can masquerade as a lady when the chance offers. Time and again, her best work fell within this range, displaying her on sliding emotional, social, and moral scales.
"Stanwyck was more intelligent, warmer, and a good deal tougher than Joan Crawford, whose work showed certain similarities to hers, and she was always more interesting and entertaining to watch. [Thomson was ambivalent about Joan Crawford, absorbed enough by her to write about her length.] The manner of her survival, no matter if often undercutting melodramatic and romantic material, was a vindication of the personality and attitude she accumulated in her films. There is not a more credible portrait in the cinema of a worldly, attractive, and independent woman in a man's world than Stanwyck's career revealed. In middle and old age, her looks distilled into narrowed eyes and silver hair; thus it is worth insisting that in the 1930s and 1940s she was delectable, a stirring mixture of toughness and sentiment, a truly and creatively two-faced woman.
"....giving one of the best American comedy performances in Preston Sturges's The Lady Eve (41)...."
A Biographical Dictionary of Film, 3rd Edition (1994), p. 712-13.