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.
Alex Ross Perry Pays a Visit to Great American Iconoclast Paul Schrader
On the set of his latest film, First Reformed, writer-director Paul Schrader reflects on the art of cinema and his uncompromising explorations of sin, guilt, and faith.
Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Most Unusual Experiment
In the latest episode of Observations on Film Art, scholar David Bordwell examines the deeply strange horror film Vampyr, which uses popular material as a springboard for innovations in mood and technique.