A Life of Barbara Stanwyck Steel-True 1907-1940

There is nothing more shocking pre-code, than an early Barbara Stanwyck movie. Some of her most infamous, really stretched any semblance of a code before Breen took over as the strict enforcer of the code. Ladies of Leisure (1930), Illicit (1931), The Miracle Woman (1931), Ten Cents a Dance (1931), Night Nurse (1931), The Purchase Price (1932), Forbidden (1932), Shopworn (1932), The Bitter Tea of General Yen(1933), Ladies They Talk About(1933), and the very notorious Baby Face(1933) which I am thinking just about drove the censors right over the edge. These movies while good, really pushed the envelope.

A Life of Barbara Stanwyck is an intimidating looking book at 860 pages (really 1044 pages if you include appendixes of Stage, Film, Radio, and Television Chronologies etc.). We learn about her life of practically growing up on the stage. Then her move to Hollywood and her 36 movies made between the years 1927 through 1940. It is an excellent film reference book, that doesn’t read like a reference book.

It is an impressively written stage and filmography of not only Barbara but Directors, Actors, and film friends that worked with Barbara. The author Victoria Wilson also includes information about the early labor unions in film, politics, and breakdowns of who got paid what on each film or play Barbara was involved in. It is a well written book that reads like a who’s who of early Hollywood. I’ve read other Barbara books but this is the pièce de résistance.

Don’t be put-off by the size of Vol. I. It is a good, curl up and get lost in classic Hollywood book.  Of course now I can’t wait to read Vol. II I’m hoping I don’t have to wait too long for it to be published…

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