Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Barbara, here I come

I've long been an admirer of Barbara Stanwyck -- despite the fact that I've only watched two of her films. But what films! I consider Preston Sturges' "The Lady Eve" to be one of the best movies I've ever seen, a comedy that transcends comedy -- and despite the great Henry Fonda around, it is Stanwyck's film all the way. ("I need him like the axe needs the turkey", "Lady Eve", played by Stanwyck, remarks at one point). The other film, of course, is the Billy Wilder noir "Double Indemnity", famous for getting into trouble for Stanwyck's expression: as her lover played by Fred MacMurray strangles her husband, Stanwyck's femme fatale, glimpsed in the rearview mirror, watches with an expression that is almost sexually ecstatic. (Oh, and I've seen her in a couple of weepies -- but I can't recall their names -- on TCM).

Still, it's Stanwyck's birth centenary this year and BAM is celebrating by screening several of her movies. (Perhaps because it is so well-known, "The Lady Eve" is not on the list). Of course I want to go but MoMA is screening a festival of Indian movies right this week -- so I was torn between what to do. Anthony Lane's profile of Stanwyck in the latest New Yorker settles it for me: I'm going to the Stanwyck retrospective for sure.

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