Sex, Sin, and Stanwyck
The early days of the talkie were certainly a sensational time for the movies, as Hollywood didn’t shy away from portraying all manner of debauchery on-screen. And no star better embodies this bawdy, brassy period before the enforcement of the Production Code than Barbara Stanwyck, who first shot to fame in the early thirties on the strength of her tough-yet-tender swagger and passionate expressivity—not to mention her husky-voiced flair for the double entendre. Now, on the Criterion Channel, we’re presenting eleven of Stanwyck’s most memorable pre-Code roles, from the hospital trainee in William A. Wellman’s risqué Night Nurse, to the sham evangelist of Frank Capra’s The Miracle Woman, to the power-hungry gangster’s moll of Alfred E. Green’s Baby Face. Check out the above teaser for the program, which draws from an introduction featuring film scholar Catherine Russell and critic Imogen Sara Smith. Once you’re done, dart on over to the Channel to meet all of the hard-charging characters who defined Stanwyck’s early career.