Archive for barbara stanwyck

The ‘Forbidden’ William A. Wellman

Posted in Dailies, DVD with tags , , , on August 17, 2010 by leclisse

I tend to associate certain seasons with films from particular decades or genres.  Summertime conjures a certain nostalgia for the dusty grit of the 1930s or anything that takes place during the Depression years, which serves as a kind of visual mirroring of the heat of the day.  While at the library the other day, I picked up the first disc from Forbidden Hollywood Volume 3 because I had something of a yen to see an early Barbara Stanwyck film.  I love her work in the early Thirties, particularly what I’ve seen from the Forbidden Hollywood Collection.  She always seems so perfectly cast in these films, much more so than at any other point in her career, and that familiarity and level of authority really come to the forefront of these performances.

What I wasn’t expecting from the films on this disc (Stanwyck’s The Purchase Price and Mary Astor’s Other Men’s Women) was to be so impressed with William Wellman’s direction that I decide to skip a straightforward film analysis in favor of a more visual commentary on these films.  What intrigued me in particular, especially while watching Other Men’s Women, was the frequent use of unconventional close-up shots as well as the ease with which Wellman uses long shots of his actors.  The frequency of the latter in The Purchase Price serves as a silent reinforcement of his professional confidence in Stanwyck; his respect for her and Astor allows him to do this because he knows they do not need to constantly remind the audience of their presence and are skilled enough to sacrifice a little publicity for the sake of directorial artistry.

Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Volume Three

Posted in DVD with tags , , , , , , , on February 24, 2009 by leclisse

Fresh from the TCM archives is a third installment in the Forbidden Hollywood Collection.  This time, the set includes five films from the vaults of Warner Brothers and one from MGM.  They are all directed by the often overlooked William Wellman, who excelled in an exquisitely gritty realism.  The list of films in this volume are as follows:

Other Men’s Women (1931), starring Mary Astor, James Cagney and Joan Blondell (both in supporting roles).
The Purchase Price (1932), starring Barbara Stanwyck and George Brent.
Frisco Jenny (1932), starring Ruth Chatterton.
Wild Boys of the Road (1933), starring Frankie Darro and Edwin Phillips.
Heroes for Sale (1933), starring Richard Barthelmess and Loretta Young.
Midnight Mary (1933), starring Loretta Young and Franchot Tone.

It doesn’t look like this set is even for sale yet on the TCM web site, so details on the special features will be forthcoming.  I have not seen any of these films yet, so I am eagerly anticipating this release.  Based on the excellence of the previous two volumes, I have no doubt that this one will be just as fine.  The cover even features a coy Joan Blondell: