What’s Your Favorite Barbara Stanwyck Film Performance?

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  • Ron

    Stanwick was never better than in THE STRANGE LOVES OF MARTHA IVERS and THE FURIES.
    They are foolishly missing from your list.

  • OZ ROB

    So many favorites !!,, One I really love and am always moved by is her character Jessica Drummond in, FORTY GUNS, 1957,,

    • Stephen Farris

      Thats the one I liked, but had forgotten the title.

  • frankiedc

    Barbara Stanwyck was the great actress of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Katherine Hepburn are often hailed as the great actress of those times. While all those ladies were exceptional actresses, they all were mannered in different ways. Stanwyck was equally outstanding in drama, comedy, action films, and social commentary. I always felt I was watching a real person when I viewed her movies. I cant imagine Davis, Crawford or Hepburn playing a burlesque queen, an evil lesbian bordello owner, a cheap factory girl trying to be respectable, an old woman in love with a younger priest or a defiant Western heroine. Yes, one of those illustrious ladies could play at least one of these roles, but not all of them, as Stanwyck did.

    I have to agree with Ron about missing Martha Ivers and The Furies, and I would include My Reputation, Clash by Night, and The Thorn Birds.

  • Wayne P.

    She is truly a superb actress who spanned the Studio Age to the modern era. Some other of her classic performances were in Banjo on my Knee, The Mad Miss Manton, Remember the Night (a Christmas treat in our house every year as my wifes mom named her Barbara, after this screen legend;), Two for Breakfast and a couple of early Frank Capra works that gave her a good start: The Miracle Woman (the precursor to Elmer Gantry) and The Bitter Tea of General Yen. Its really hard to pick a favorite as theres not many bad apples in her film barrel! She could spin a line of dialogue as if it were natural…for example, she tells Beulah Bondi, Fred MacMurray’s mother, in Remember the Night (who is trying to get her to stop seeing her son so as not to ruin his lawyer career since shes a shoplifter): “Oh sure, hes got a little fever for me…after all, I’m not half-bad looking, but its not going anywhere and it hasnt been anywhere either”.

  • MsMerlina

    I agree – Barbara was the greatest and most versatile…as well as the most natural actress. She could play any role with grace, humor and dignity yet she was not the same person in any two roles – that’s the difference between Barbara and many other highly regarded actresses, the way she kept changing. I would like to see more fans added to her webpage at Fanpop where I’m a member, thanks!

  • kp22kc

    I have to agree with an earlier post about Remember the Night. She is just wonderful in this movie. Funny and heartbreaking. While I like Stella Dallas, The Lady Eve, Christmas in Connecticut and Double Indemnity very much, I have to put Remember the Night at the very top of my list of favorites. It’s such a sweet movie with that raw undertone. I don’t think she was ever more attractive then when she is talking to Beulah Bondi in the bedroom right before she is supposed to go into Fred MacMurray’s room for “a cigarette.” Brushing her hair in a ratty old robe and she is smokin’ hot! A lesser known movie that should be watched more often. I just watched it again a couple of weeks ago right before Christmas.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kathy.jenkins.71404 Kathy Jenkins

      Glad I’m not the only person who likes Remember the Night. She was outstanding in that film.

  • NancyW

    This is hard to pinpoint, she was fabulous in everything she ever did! The 2 Mrs Carrolls, My Reputation, Stella Dallas, The Strange Loves of Martha Ivers, Ball of Fire, So Big, Christmas in Connecticut, Sorry Wrong Number, and on and on. Flawless ! And to think she never received an Oscar, incredible. Oh I know she got one when she was up there in years, but I still think she got the shaft big time!!

    • tlynette

      I forgot about the Two Mrs Carrolls! And I swear, that first scene we saw her in “Christmas in Connecticut” inspired me to buy a fur coat! That line “you don’t know what a mink coat does for a girl’s morale” was just classic! LOL! She’s one of my all time favorite actresses.

  • MaryLouiseC

    Yes, she was truly a superb actress who could do anything. I loved her in Union Pacific, too.
    Interestingly, I had an aunt who looked just like her!

  • Roger Lynn

    I will say Barbara Stanwyck was my all time favorite actress,,Sorry Wrong Number and Christmas In Connecticut were my 2 all time faves…hard to believe her only Oscar was for her great body of work,,she was nominated 4 times,,,STELLA DALLAS,,BALL OF FIRE,DOUBLE INDEMNITY,,SORRY WRONG NUMBER…..she did win 3 EMMYS for The Barbara Stanwyck Show,The Big Valley and The Thorn Birds,as well as a Golden Globe(thorn birds) and the CECIL B DEMILLE HONOR,,,FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER,,,AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD…SHE PALY ANYTHING FROM COMEDY-DRAMA-MUSICAL,,WESTERNS,,BE THE VICTIM,HEROINE,VILLIANESS,, she was just simply THE BEST

  • E

    If you love Stanwyck then you’ve got to see her in Christmas in Connecticut. She is wonderful. I actually bought the dvd and save it to watch just before Christmas. Another great one you might not know is “NO MAN OF HER OWN” WOW!!!

  • Pete

    Barbara Stanwyck was just a class act.
    Whether she was playing in a house dress or an evening gown, she was equally at home…and believeable. One thing I particulary loved watching her…and regardless of the character she played, a little bit of Brooklyn always managed to come thru.
    It’s something I miss in the all too real characterizations we see today. Actresses like Stanwyck let you believe they were the characters they portrayed…and if a little of their real selves creeped into it…then it was all the better. Her job was to entertain her audiences…and on that score, she never failed to achieve.

  • Joseph

    Please, Ball of Fire (The Professor and the Burlesque Queen), in spite of the silliness of the plot, she was really special!

  • DollyT

    She truly was a gifted actress. I saw her at Max Factor in Hollywood in the 60’s and was surprised how tiny she was.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kathy.jenkins.71404 Kathy Jenkins

    My favourite is “Remember the Night” with Fred MacMurray (1940).

    • Wally Gunn

      I was looking for this one, this past Christmas and only saw it for the first time, once, last year. I remember it being a sleeper, as in a good one, for the nostalgia of Christmas’ past. MacMurray was very serious and Barbara was good, as a bad girl!

  • Tom

    Oh, there are a couple of wonderful films not mentioned, so I had to vote “Other.” LOVED her in”My reputation,” and in”Remember the Night!” Also, just saw her in “Lady of Burlesque.” Man, she is quickly becoming my very favorite! (Sorry to Beette and Joan!)

  • http://www.facebook.com/ross.howell.509 Ross Howell

    She was great in every roll she played, “Remember The Night” is one of my favorites too.

  • George Matusek

    It’s great that “Remember the Night” is finally available on DVD so that more people can appreciate how wonderful Barbara was in it. The screenplay was written by legendary Preston Sturges before Paramount allowed him to direct — it would have been interesting to see how he would have directed it.

    • George Matusek

      Since the great Christmas movie “Remember the Night” was left off the list, I voted for “The Lady Eve.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004488580416 John Patterson

    I always loved her as Victoria Barkley on”The Big Valley”.
    She was pretty and classy and tough on the show.

  • Eileen

    The maverick queen, the great man’s lady, ball of fire, stella dallas

  • Thom Thomas

    I recently was able to find a DVD of one of Barbara Stanwyck’s least known, but terrific performances in a film THE OTHER LOVE. She starred with David Niven and Richard Conte. A wonderful controlled and sensitive performance where Ms Stanwyck is stricken with TB and is destined to die. Niven played her doctor who falls in love with her. What a super performance. The other role that I loved her in was THE STRANGE LOVES OF MARTHA IVERS. It was also Kirk Douglas’s first leading role.

  • tbsjr64

    Two of my favorites which are mid thrites comdies are The Bride Walks Out and The Mad Miss Manton. I love her in these two lighter comdies which showcase her comedy and her beauty.

  • tlynette

    That’s a toughie! Miss Barbara brings it in every movie she’s ever been in! Just this partial list of roles runs the gamut — the tearjerking Stella Dallas, the too-smart for her own good Anne Mitchell, the Girl, PLEASE! comedic moves of Elizabeth Lane, and the bitch-on-wheels Phyllis Dietrichson!!! — Miss Barbara could do it all. She was a riot in the “Mad Miss Manton” and “Lady of Burlesque” too. Just enshrine her in the Hall of Fame, and say she was a TERRIFIC actress, every time out.

  • Jim

    Really, ONE Stanwyck performance? Almost impossible. It would have to be Double Indemnity, a classic movie, and an amazing performance. But my runner-up (not on the list, for some reason!) is her performance as Vance Jeffords in the classic Anthony Mann western “The Furies”. She plays a strong woman moved to an extreme act of revenge. See it!

  • Judy

    Never liked Barbara Stanwyck. Didn’t go to see her movies.

    • Stargazer

      Thank you for sharing that with us. Very enlightening.

    • Ray Johnson

      My commiserations for your lack of taste!

  • Picttaker

    I agree with the others that Stanwyck should be up with the greatest and in some cases listed above some of the old standard “Best Actresses”. For me, I totally enjoyed her performance in “Lady of Burlesque” I cannot see how anybody could really pick 1 movie out of her long and verstile career. maybe if you listed ..Best Comedy, Western, Drama, Film Noir, ect. it would be possible) A total class act that had it all. ( Maybe she did have one weakness.. Can’t really say she sang very well, “Take it off the E string… put it on the G String” LOL……) but then again neither could Davis ( My second all time choice after Stanwyck), Hepburn, or Crawford. (Do I like Stanwyck? I have a number of her autographs including a hand written signed letter, my most prized possesion.)

    • Wayne P.

      I didnt think she could sing either until saw her with Joel McCrea in Banjo on My Knee, made in 1935/36. She does a number by herself or it might be the one with Tony Martin, Alice Fayes’ first husband, and they are all pretty entertaining, just like her (always;)!

  • dirkwrestler

    Its gotta be Phyllis Dietrichson and her “honey of an anklet”!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dana.thompson.754 Dana Thompson

    Well, I loved Double Indemnity (awesome) and Stella Dallas (crazy good) and also Sorry Wrong Number, I love all her movies, anything she is in is entertaining, wasn’t she also in Meet John Doe? Or was it Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, I am ashamed I can’t stand definitively, I am an old movie buff

  • http://www.facebook.com/dana.thompson.754 Dana Thompson

    Oh geez, now I see Meet John Doe is on the list, well, that’s another great one, I think it was Jean Arthur (another great actress) in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

  • JoAnne McMaster

    I absolutely love Stanwyck, and have most of her movies. There is only one performance I can’t stand, and that is because of the script, not the actress. It’s “My Reputation” with George Brent. (Spoiler alert for anyone who reads on). She plays a widow with two boys who falls in love, but won’t marry Brent because her sons – schoolboys – disapprove. Really? Two children? So instead of sitting them down and explaining, or sending them back to school so they can grow up, she gives up the man she loves. Plus, these kids were old enough where they should have figured their mother would want to remarry someday. Spoiled kids who were selfish enough to think only of themselves, not her. Didn’t like the ending at all (sorry about the spoiler, but you’ve all probably seen it anyway).

  • Alia/Hawaii

    The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

  • DS

    She was a straight up seductress in the Strange Loves Of Martha Ivers

  • Maverick

    Ephraim Katz wrote, in his book,The Film Encyclopedia: “She was neither a great actress nor did she ever give a bad performance. She was simply a discipined, hard-working actress who responded to every challenge with total commitment.” I can see his point somewhat; Miss Stanwyck gives her audience nothing less than her all. She did, however, capture “greatness”. Her Stella Dallas, and her “dual” role as Jean/Eve in THE LADY EVE are in a class all their own. One could never “type” Stanwyck. She could take on any type of character convincingly. She could portray shop-girls, showgirls, a tough rancher, a mother who sacrificed everything for her daughter. She could play herione or villian with equal proficiency and, again, commitment. I’ve never seen another film actress who could move like Stanwyck. The way she stood and moved across the screen told the viewer volumes about the character she was playing. For me, she is the female equivalent of James Cagney. I can catch a film mid-way through…have no idea what is going on, or who the characters are – but if I see Miss Barbara Stanwyck or James Cagney, I’m seeing it through, knowing that I won’t be disappointed.

  • sanni

    I liked her in all of her movies. It is is hard to single one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/davidbrucepatterson David Bruce Patterson

    I also liked her in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. She made Kirk Douglas look a real wimp…which he was in this particular film. I liked Stanwyck because she was not a method-style actress, She just put it all out there…often a bit neurotic and intense. And when she poured on the sex…no one did it better!

  • http://www.facebook.com/davidbrucepatterson David Bruce Patterson

    Stanwyck was so loved by other performers. She was totally unselfish and never saw herself as above anyone. Directors loved her.

  • Diane

    Loved her as the older matriarch who burned with desire for Father Ralph in The Thorn Birds!!

  • CowbearUK

    Where was The Mad Miss Manton?

  • Stephen Farris

    She had another flic, but I forget the title. She play a ranch owmer that carried a riding crop and had about two dozen hired guns that rode with her, wherever she went. “Twenty Guns”, or something like that.

    • Wayne P.

      Forty Guns, made in 1957 🙂

  • GayleGee

    I never truly appreciated Barbara Stanwyck until THE LADY EVE. I’m a huge Preston Sturges fan and that film made me explore her career. I love her work and have come to realize that she is my favorite actress of all time. Katharine Hepburn was amazing and good ol’ Magic Meryl is, well, magic. Stanwyck knew film. Stanwyck knew lighting. She understood the art of film acting better than anyone. I love her dramas and her comedies equally and feel that no actress will EVER equal her body of work.

  • davidalan

    My favorite Barbara Stanwyck movie is “East Side, West Side.”

  • Stargazer

    I have spoken about Barbara Stanwyck on here before. She was (along with Ingrid Bergman and Kate Hepburn) the best actress of her era. Her best films ? 1. Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity would take some beating. It is also my choice as Best Film Noir.

    2. The Lady Eve is a madcap comedy and Stanwyck makes the most of her great role in this movie,co-starring with the bumbling Henry Fonda.

    Next for me would be 3. Sugarpuss O’Shea in the comedy Ball of Fire with Gary Cooper, and then
    Eastside Westside with James Mason and Van Heflin.
    5. Titanic with Clifton Webb, and a supporting role in 6.Executive Suite with a a star studded cast.

    7.Christmas in Connecticutt (remember how she pronounced “Connecticutt”) – hilarious. I also really liked the (old fashioned by todays standards) 8. My Reputation with George Brent.

    ( Gypsy Rose Lees wrote a book call The G-String Murders, which later became
    9.The Lady of Burlesque. It’s a wonderful blend of drama (dancers being murdered back stage with their own G-Strings) and comedy, and Stanwyck at her best.
    10 . Finally, the immortal Meet John Doe again with Gary Cooper, should have higher up than ten.

  • Stargazer

    Oops, I forgot The Gay Sisters, which isn’t out on DVD – is it ? George Brent and Geraldine Fitzgerald.

  • Nick Z.

    Okay, you left out Stanwyck’s superb portrait of a widow who finds love anew in “My Reputation”. Stanwyck, the consummate professional, never gave a bad performance – ever!

  • anthony marinelli

    I saw a recent poll here on favourite ‘stars’ films as opposed to character actors..and I follow stars and films as much as anyone. But in comparing an actress from the golden age of hollywood like barbara stanwyck to say a modern actress like anne hathaway(and there are many deserving actreeses today I just saw hers)..are we voting for the performance or the film. Do we pick just a great film and she may have made a better performance in a more laclustre film, and our favourite may not be their favourite. A femme fatale from ages past in the film noir era, femma fatale like britney spears new cd

  • hypatiab7

    My vote is for “Lady of Burlesque”. I thought of Ms Barbara Stanwyck as a bit of a stiff until I saw that
    and “Balls of Fire” and “The Mad Miss Manton”. Besides, any movie that has an old burlesque/vaudeville performer like Pinky Lee in it always has my vote

  • Bruce Reber

    With me it’s a three-way tie between Lily Powers (Babyface), Sugarpuss O’Shea (Ball of Fire) and Phyllis Dietrichson (Double Indemnity), but in the poll I my pick was the lethal Ms. Dietrichson in DI.

  • mh

    There are several:. The Lady Eve, Sorry wrong number, Forerver goodbye, Titanic, Meet John Doe, Ball of Fire, Lady of Burlesque, and there are more.
    She was a great actress and a great woman. Generous, professional, and very well liked by those who worked with her, both behind the scenes as well as her fellow actors. That is saying a lot for the Hollywood crowd.

  • Jane Kelly

    I loved her in Elvis’s movie Roustabout…but my all time favorite Barbara Stanwyck role will always be Victoria Barkley – strong, fierce but gracious & lovely with a heart of gold & a hellofa horsewoman!

  • Tim Passsinault

    Christmas in Conneticut was a great and fun film!..Look forward to it every Christmas season