Barbara Stanwyck Was Better Than Davis And Hepburn!

Categories: Film

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That's the bold contention of Dan Callahan's well written book Barbara Stanwyck, The Miracle Woman.

Says he:


"Mighty as they were, Davis and Hepburn were actors who sometimes indicated emotions, or ran roughshod over them.

"Stanwyck only did that once, in Sorry, Wrong Number, her last Oscar bid.

"If the silent era Lillian Gish is the true progenitor of the American screen actress, Stanwyck, Davis, and Hepburn are the holy trinity for the classic studio era.

"Of the three, Stanwyck worked with the best directors and is the one whose style is the least dated and the most natural."

She blazed a trail, he adds, and still shows the way for anyone who cares about the art of cinema acting!

Callahan also mentions Meryl Streep, saying she's of the Bette Davis mold; Davis even sent her a fan letter.

But it's Jennifer Jason Leigh who he feels represents the closest modern equivalent to Stanwyck's "rugged integrity."

Interesting stuff.

But is Stanwyck really the best of the best? And is Jennifer the new her?

Or is this another case of "Sorry, wrong number"?



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13 comments
chatvp
chatvp

Stanwyck is easily the most versatile of the classic era actresses, excelling in virtually every genre thrown her way -- film noir, screwball, straight drama, westerns, and if pre-Code can be deemed a genre (its sensibilities were altogether different than for films made after mid-1934), she qualifies in that, too. Barbara is my third all-time favorite actress, trailing only Lombard and Loy, both of whom might have topped her for comedy (as two sides of the same coin), but neither had Stanwyck's sheer versatility (although Carole is a what-might-have-been and the post-war Myrna largely worked only when she wanted, in what she wanted; no Davis-Crawford Grand Guignol for her). Think about it -- Stanwyck, a gal from Brooklyn, is in the Cowgirl Hall of Fame (and did her own equine stunts)!

 

What hurts Stanwyck compared to K. Hepburn or Davis is that most of her characters tended to be gritty, wrong-side-of-the-street, a quality the patrician Kate found hard to capture and Bette only occasionally did after the 1930s.

 

BTW, Stanwyck will be TCM's Star of the Month for December. Spencer Tracy (speaking of Kate) has the honors in October, while pre-Code fave Constance Bennett will be SOTM for November.

jackson30
jackson30

Dummo, it could easily be Best Male Actor and Best Female Actor, or is that too hard for you?

 

The debate about saying "actress" or "waitress" has nothing to do with women being ashamed to be female--it has to do with the language demeaning them with these "special" words that are patronizing. That's why they don't want them. They want to be called an "actor" just like a guy. Got THAT?

andreco
andreco

Bethesda, of course I know that for years actresses are being referred to as actors and I think it is wrong. Are women ashamed of being women, actresses? OK, then let's eliminate the best performance awards by an "actress" and let just have a non gender award for a best performance for "actors" and may the BEST MAN win.

dannyboy143
dannyboy143

Hey SouthernDave-

 

I'm the author of this Stanwyck book---and I very much agree with you about her versatility and her choice of directors.

 

The Taylor marriage was complicated, and I get into that in the book. Things never worked out with her adopted son Dion--I write about that in a long chapter on Stanwyck in "Stella Dallas."

SouthernDave
SouthernDave

Stanwyck WAS more versatile. Hepburn and Davis were so mannered, there were certain parts they just couldn't play.

 

And she DID work with a longer list of first-rate directors.

 

By the by, does the book say that the Stanwyck-Robert Taylor marriage was a sham?

 

And what happened to her adopted son, who wandered off and was eaten by dingos or somethin'?

bethesda
bethesda

I guess andreco missed the last decade, where the word "actors" became preferable for both sexes. Sad how out of it some people are.

andreco
andreco

Davis and Hepburn were actors? Had no idea they were transgender. They always fooled me since I thought they were women, actresses.

bethesda
bethesda

Crawford is the large slice of ham in the middle of this sandwich of exquisite actresses.

BetteD
BetteD

NOT!!!

 

"Davis and Hepburn were actors who sometimes indicated emotions..." Wow, what's he been smoking?

 

"Of the three, Stanwyck worked with the best directors..." Uh, no -- Davis worked with THE best directors in her prime, he needs to do his homework!

ladybug9
ladybug9

Stanwyck was great but I don't feel she had the range or sheer star power of Davis or Hepburn. Sorry.

bwaybill
bwaybill

Much as I love Jennifer Jason Leigh, you'd never call her "natural," so I'd have to say no, she's not of the Stanwyck mold. She's more of a Bette Davis.

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