best film: Double Indemnity is a landmark film for American cinema (directed by Wilder born in Austria/Hungry) and film noir. It’s the pretty easy choice here for Stanwyck’s best film. The only real contender is The Lady Eve but I’m getting the edge to the noir here with stunning performances by Fred MacMurray, Edward G. Robinson, and, of course, Stanwyck. Stanwyck, for my money, is the greatest femme fatale, in this film, in the history of cinema.

best performance:  Double Indemnity. I think this is closer than the best film category. She’s superb in The Lady Eve in that dual lead with Fonda. Fonda, like MacMurray, is the foil and mark. It’s Stanwyck that’s in complete control of both pictures. She’s beautiful, but there’s certainly been prettier faces in the history of noir or screwball, she’s single-minded, imposing, and intelligent.

stylistic innovations/traits: If you take a look at Stanwyck’s top three performances below we have crime (noir), comedy (screwball), and drama (high melodrama here in Stella Dallas). I think all could be pointed to as the best single performance in their genre from the era. That’s incredible. Stanwyck has been in masterpieces (and been good in them), helped defined these genres, and has a very deep filmography (18 films at the time I’m writing) in the archives. Look at her peers— Could Hepburn do noir?  Could Bergman do screwball comedy? There’s a strong case to be made for Stanwyck as the best of the era (and of all-time).

directors worked with: Capra (2) is the only one more than once over her 17 archiveable films but the list of one-timers is impressive: Wilder, Hawks, Sturges, A. Mann, Lang, and Sam Fuller.

Top 10 Performances:

  1. Double Indemnity
  2. The Lady Eve
  3. Stella Dallas
  4. The Furies
  5. Forty Guns
  6. Ball of Fire
  7. Sorry, Wrong Number
  8. The Bitter Tea of General Yen
  9. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers
  10. There’s Always Tomorrow

 

Archiveable films

1933- Baby Face
1933- The Bitter Tea of General Yen
1937- Stella Dallas
1939- Golden Boy
1940- Remember Tonight
1941- Ball Of Fire
1941- Meet John Doe
1941- The Lady Eve
1944- Double Indemnity
1946- The Strange Love of Martha Ivers
1948- Sorry, Wrong Number
1950- No Man Of Her Own
1950- The Furies
1952- Clash By Night
1953- Titanic
1954- Executive Suite
1956- There’s Always Tomorrow
1957- Forty Guns