Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Vital Viewing (Keep Up Your Premiums or Else It's All for Nought Edition)

 Actress Barbara Stanwyck was born on this day in 1907. Three years before her death in 1990, Stanwyck received the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award, and, in the forthright manner that had become her persona, showed her appreciation:

During her acceptance speech, Stanwyck made mention of...

...filmmaker Billy Wilder, who she claimed taught her how to kill (and then threw in a "Thank God!" for good measure.) What's she talking about? Let's take a quick look at her 1944 tutorial:


Jumpin' Jehosephat! Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray make two very ruthless people.

Even while grocery shopping!

But don't be too alarmed. They mellow out later on. After all...

...who has time for Murder One while raising a family?


  1. Barbara was right up there as one of my favorite actresses. Not only did she do drama and thrillers good, but I think she was actually a good comedic actress, probably because I don't think she found herself funny. My favorite role of hers was Christmas in Connecticut.

    She's practically a Patron Saint here at the Casa du Borghese.

    1. Maddie, two more Stanwyck comedies I would recommend to you: The Lady Eve and Ball of Fire.

  2. Hi, Kirk!

    Happy 112th birthday in heaven to Barbara Stanwyck! The speech she gave in accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award was nothing but class all the way, a quality that is sorely lacking in most of today's award ceremonies and among younger generations of thespians. The year was 1987 and the audience was filled with greats that are no longer with us including Bob (Untouchables/Unsolved Mysteries) Stack, Jimmy Stewart and director Billy Wilder, whom Barbara mentioned in her address. It was fun to watch that clip from Billy Wilder's film noir Double Indemnity and see Fred MacMurray, whom I came to know as the benevolent dad on My Three Sons, utterly convincing in the role of a heavy. You might have noticed in the credits of D.I. the supporting actor Porter Hall. As Wiki reminds us, Hall "typically played villains or comedic incompetent characters." Hall achieved immortality in 1970 when Russ Meyer gave the name "Porter Hall" to one of the main characters in his cult classic film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. The Porter Hall in BVD is, you guessed it, a quirky, funny villain.

    I loved Barbara (with Clifton Webb, Robert Wagner & Audrey Dalton) in Titanic (1953), but I didn't watch her 1960s Western TV series, The Big Valley.

    I was disappointed to learn that Barbara, whom I always admired as an actress, held conservative Republican political views, as did Fred MacMurray, Jimmy Stewart, Robert Young, Walter Brennan and some of my other favorites. She supported the witch hunt of the House Un-American Activities Committee and blacklisting in Hollywood.

    Three months from tomorrow, God willing, a great actress, humanitarian, courageous survivor and true champion, Miss Marsha Hunt, will turn 102 years of age. Bless her heart, and let us all thank her for standing tall on the right (left) side of history at a time when doing so as a Hollywood actress, actor or writer, was tantamount to committing career suicide:


    Thanks, good buddy Kirk, and enjoy the rest of your week!

    1. Oh, Shady, you had to go and bring up celebrities and politics, didn't you? That big burly guy with dark glasses I have posted at the door was supposed to make sure that didn't happened. You must have slipped him something. Oh, well...

      Shady, I'm politically left of center, someone who wishes AOC was old enough to run for president (but I won't go any farther left than that. I like glamour, glitz, and glitter far too much ever to make a good Marxist. Why can't they ever have any high-kicking Radio City Rockettes in those May Day parades?) Yet, like you, I like Stanwyck, MacMurray, Stewart, Young, Brennan, and a few names you didn't mention like Bob Hope, Walt Disney, and--you might want to use a Nation subscription card to fan yourself--JOHN WAYNE!!!!!!!!!!

      So how do I reconcile all that? Well, a good deal of it has to do with the fact that I don't find out about these people's politics until AFTER I've become a fan of theirs, by which time it's too late to be turned off by them. It also helps that their politics rarely, as far as I can tell, impact their art (even the Duke seemed to have a liberal change of heart by the end of The Searchers when he decided not to kill Natalie Wood.)

      I also can take solace in the knowledge that people who were or are closer to me in their political views did work, get along, and were even friends with these right-wingers. Billy Wilder once described himself as a New Dealer Democrat, yet not only did he cast Stanwyck in a movie, but was there to watch her get the Lifetime Achievement Award decades later. Jimmy Stewart was said to have been best friends with Henry Fonda, whose politics closely matched that of his offspring. Bob Hope may have been Republican but New Dealer Democrats wrote most of his jokes. Disney, the son of a socialist, made a sharp turn to the left after a strike at his studio, but is said to have kept on hiring people he knew to be liberals anyway (and though he was eager to be part of them at first, he eventually distanced himself from the blacklisters) John Wayne? Well, Lauren Bacall, who spoke out against blacklisting to the point that she was nearly blacklisted herself (Bogie ended up bailing her out) co-starred with the Duke in his final film The Shootist, and is said to have been friends with him later in life, despite their political differences. And while we're on the subject of Wayne, no less than Abbie Hoffman admitted becoming thrilled when the Duke rode that horse with the reins in his mouth in True Grit (I wouldn't be surprised if needed dentures after that.) All that may not seem like much, but it's something.

      Also, while it may not be the most positive way to go through life, I'm a bit deterministic. People are going to be what they're going to be and there's nothing I can do about that. It's how I get through the Trump era.

      Finally, Shady, if it's any consolation, I never thought much of Ronald Reagan's acting.

    2. That's should be Disney made a sharp turn to the RIGHT.

      I'm surprised I get my shoes on the right feet in the morning.

    3. Shady, I didn't have time yesterday to look at the link you provided, but I just did now, and it looked very familiar. If you go back and look, you'll see I left a comment shortly after you posted it.

  3. Replies
    1. Yes, Mitchell, her acting style was kind of different for its time. It made her stand out.

  4. Double Indemnity is such a wonderful noir classic!

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    2. Debra, I guess Billy Wilder is best known these days for the comedy Some Like It Hot, but he really did give film noir a jump start.

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