Pre-Code morals: Barbara Stanwyck’s ‘bad’ girls

oooAnother great piece on Stanwyck, this time from Girls Do Film, as part of the the Classic Movie History Project blogathon, hosted by Movies Silently, Silver Screenings and Once Upon a Screen.

Girls Do Film

Barbara_Stanwyck_Baby_Face_1933

There’s a moment in almost every one of Barbara Stanwyck’s pre-Code films when the actresses’ energy and fire breaks through into her character, creating a moment of pure emotion and intensity. It’s pure speculation to suggest that Stanwyck’s working-class background and upbringing directly influenced the snappy, back-chatting roles she took and how she chose to play them, but her brusque and no-nonsense approach allowed audience sympathy to remain on her side, no matter what role she was playing. Bank robber, gold-digging opportunist, a scrappy nurse: in the pre-Code era, Stanwyck played them all (and more). Her ability to walk the line between good and bad enabled her to get away with the characters – although that’s not to say the films escaped censorship.

Barbara_Stanwyck_Baby_Face_1933Barbara_Stanwyck_Baby_Face_1933Take 1933’s Baby Face (directed Alfred E. Green, also starring George Brent). Stanwyck’s promiscuous character Lilly Power set in motion a chain of events that would…

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2 thoughts on “Pre-Code morals: Barbara Stanwyck’s ‘bad’ girls

  1. Wow this splendid piece brings me back to the pre-code festival and the Barbara Stanwyck Festival, both staged at the Film Forum in the past years. Many greats films here (BABY FACE is a particular favorite) and the coverage is first-rate! 🙂

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